UAE diplomats call on US to relist Houthis as terrorists, demand more defense systems
The UAE has called on the US to provide it with better anti-missile and anti-drone capabilities to continue defending itself against Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi attacks, Emirati diplomats wrote in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece after the militia attacked Abu Dhabi three times in January.
UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba and UAE permanent representative to the UN Lana Zaki Nusseibeh wrote in the WSJ article: “Better anti-missile and anti-drone capabilities are... needed. The US Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems prevented an even greater loss of life in the January strikes.”
“The UAE will intensify its cooperation with the US to expand and improve this protective umbrella for itself, US assets in the region and other Gulf allies,” they added.
In January, the Houthis targeted the UAE with three cross border aerial attacks using cruise and ballistic missiles, as well as drones. All the attacks targeted civilian sites and infrastructures and led to the death of three civilians.
The UAE said it had coordinated efforts with US forces at al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi, and Washington announced that its military forces in the Gulf country deployed Patriot surface-to-air missiles to intercept and deter the Houthi attacks on the Emirati capital.
Otaiba and Nusseibeh said: “Containing Houthi aggression requires broad diplomatic pressure, tougher US and international sanctions, intensified efforts to block weapons proliferation, and the development and wider deployment of effective countermeasures.”
They also reiterated their call for Washington to re-designate Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist organization.
President Joe Biden’s administration revoked a terrorist designation of the Houthis introduced by former President Donald Trump last February.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE maintained over the course of the past year that they will continue to treat the Houthis as a terrorist organization, regardless of whether the US decides to designate the group as such.
The UAE diplomats added that the re-designation “would help choke off [the Houthis’] financial and arms supplies without restricting humanitarian relief for the Yemeni people.”
They also called on greater pressure on Iran which provides financial and military support to the Houthis.
According to a draft UN Security Council report circulated in January, Iran has been exporting thousands of weapons from the Iranian port of Jask on the Sea of Oman to Yemen.
Iran has long been accused of fanning the flames of violence in the Middle East through financial and military support to its network of Shia proxies in the region, specifically in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. Tehran denies the accusation.
Just last December, the US Navy seized two large caches of Iranian weapons from two vessels in the Arabian sea which Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) intended to ship to the Houthi militias in Yemen, according to the US Justice Department.