Updated: January 17, 2022 9:42:06 pm
Houthis, a Yemen-based rebel group which claimed responsibility for the explosions in Abu Dhabi which killed two Indians on Monday, have carried out drone strikes on the UAE and Saudi Arabia earlier as well.
Though a Houthi attack on UAE is a rare instance, the rebel group has carried out many cross-border missile strikes on Saudi Arabia.
In 2019, a series of drone strikes, for which Houthis later claimed responsibility, struck at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil empire, leaving facilities badly damaged. A fleet of 10 drones carried out blasts on facilities of the state-run oil giant Aramco, making it one of the most devastating strikes into Saudi territory.
An Aramco statement later said that production of 5.7 million barrels of crude was suspended in the aftermath of the attack. It meant that the drone strikes took out more than half of the kingdom’s output, which is also about 6 per cent of the global oil supply.
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Even when the Houthi group carried out suspected drone attacks in the UAE, the authorities have generally denied that they took place.
In July 2018, Houthi-run media said the group launched a drone attack, a claim which the UAE turned down.
“The smaller they (drones) are the harder would be to detect and intercept. No state is fully protected against this kind of threat,” said Riad Kahwaji, chief executive of UAE-based INEGMA Middle East think tank, told Reuters.
According to the Reuters report, the Houthi’s military spokesman said the group launched a military operation “deep in the UAE”. Its chief negotiator, Mohammed Abdulsalam warned the UAE against “tampering in Yemen”.
Monday’s suspected drone attack can have further political ramifications for the ongoing proxy fight between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran which has killed tens of thousands and plunged the Persian Gulf into a humanitarian crisis. The UAE has backed anti-Houthi forces in the conflict.
In the backdrop of the years-long conflict, an Emirati-flagged vessel was recently captured by the Houthis.
The Washington Post reported that Nasraddin Amer, the deputy minister of information in Houthi-controlled Sanaa, said Monday’s attack was a “retaliation against UAE’s escalation” in Shabwa and Marib, two contested provinces in Yemen.
The UAE has been at war in Yemen since early 2015. It was a key member of a Saudi-led coalition that launched attacks on the Houthis after they ousted the internationally backed government from power. The UAE also supports local militias in Yemen that are fighting against the Houthis.
(With inputs from Reuters and AP)
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