CENTCOM chief pays tribute to US-UAE military ties, condemns Iran-backed groups

“Last year’s attack by Houthi forces on private citizens, civilians, and public facilities on Emirati soil is a stark reminder of the risk to the region posed by Iranian-backed groups,” Kurilla said in a readout of the call.

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US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Gen. Erik Kurilla reiterated the importance of the “strategic partnership” between the United States military and the UAE during a phone call with the Chief of Staff of the UAE’s Armed Forces on Tuesday.

The top US military general for the Middle East called Staff Lt. Gen. Engineer Issa Saif Mohammed AL Mazrouei on the first anniversary of the drone and missile attack on Abu Dhabi, which was carried out by the Iran-backed Houthis last year.

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“Last year’s attack by Houthi forces on private citizens, civilians, and public facilities on Emirati soil is a stark reminder of the risk to the region posed by Iranian-backed groups,” Kurilla said in a readout of the call.

The Houthis, who control Yemen’s capital city of Sanaa, carried out hundreds of drone and ballistic missile attacks on civilian targets inside Saudi Arabia and the UAE last year as the fighting continues between the Iran-backed fighters and the internationally recognized government of Yemen.

Last year’s attack killed three civilians and injured six others after targeting a fuel tanker in Abu Dhabi.

On Tuesday, Kurilla said the UAE had always been a “strong” and “reliable” partner.

He added: “I recognize the sacrifice that UAE has made over the past twenty years in multiple operations and campaigns alongside CENTCOM forces. CENTCOM is committed to the security and stability of the region.”

In a similar statement earlier in the day, US President Joe Biden said Washington remained steadfast in its pursuit of diplomacy to bring a peaceful end to the Yemen war. He also said the US would continue to support the security of the UAE and “our other partners in the Middle East, including providing needed military assistance.”

Some of the first foreign policy moves of the Biden administration in 2020 included revoking the terrorist designation of the Houthis, ending US support for “offensive” operations of the Arab Coalition in Yemen, and freezing arms sales to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

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