Yemen’s Houthi rebels warned they might target more facilities in the United Arab Emirates after carrying out drone and missile attacks Monday that killed three people.
Police in the capital, Abu Dhabi, said the attacks targeted three oil tanker trucks at an oil facility and an extension of the Abu Dhabi International Airport. They identified the dead as two Indian nationals and one Pakistani and said six people were wounded.
There was no significant damage to the airport or oil facility, police said.
A spokesperson for Yemen’s Houthi rebels said the group had carried out the attacks on the UAE’s economic hub of Abu Dhabi in retaliation for the UAE’s role in a military offensive in Yemen last week.
Houthi sources in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, told Arab media that they fired eight drones and 10 missiles.
Arab media showed video of smoke rising over the Abu Dhabi skyline, and photos of fires at Abu Dhabi airport and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company refinery.
In response, Saudi coalition forces fired on Houthi militia fighters in Yemen’s Marib province and Houthi positions in Sanaa. The coalition also said Monday it intercepted eight drones launched toward Saudi Arabia.
The UAE’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack on its facilities and said it would “not go unpunished.”
“The UAE reserves the right to respond to these terrorist attacks and criminal escalation.”
The UAE is part of a Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels. While it has largely withdrawn its forces from Yemen, it helps arm and train Yemeni forces against the rebels.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States would work with the UAE and international partners to hold Houthi rebels accountable.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and urged “all parties to exercise maximum restraint and prevent any escalation,” according to his spokesperson.
The UAE, which joined the UN Security Council on January 1, for a two-year term, has called for a meeting to discuss the escalation. No date has yet been announced.
“The United Arab Emirates calls on the Security Council to speak with one voice and join in firmly and unequivocally condemning these terrorist attacks, which were launched in complete disregard of international law,” Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh wrote in a letter to the council president.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the attack threatened regional stability.
Fahmy Al-Yousifi, deputy information minister of the Houthi government administration that controls Sanaa, told Arab media that the Houthi forces would “continue to retaliate against the United Arab Emirates so long as it remains involved in supporting combatants inside Yemen.”
Middle East analyst Paul Sullivan of the Atlantic Council told VOA that the Monday attacks on Abu Dhabi were a bad sign for regional security and stability.
“This sort of escalation will come back to bite the Houthis badly. One has to wonder how the drones, if that is what happened, got through (UAE air defenses). This is worrisome for the UAE and the region,” he said.
Washington-based Gulf analyst Theodore Karasik told VOA that the Houthi attacks came at a bad time, given “the desire to lower tensions in the Gulf at this key juncture.”
“Drone attacks are a revolution in military affairs,” he said, as they are being used to make political points.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.