Three people – a Pakistani and two Indians – were killed in a series of explosions in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Monday (January 17). Three tank trucks exploded “near ADNOC storage tanks [la compagnie pétrolière d’Abou Dhabi] », announced the official Emirati agency WAM, reporting “six injured”.
Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack: “The armed forces carried out a qualitative and successful military operation in the framework of an operation dubbed ‘Yemen’s Hurricane'”, said their spokesperson Yahya Saree in a statement broadcast on their Al-Massira channel. “Number of important and sensitive Emirati sites and facilities” were targeted with ballistic missiles and drones, he said.
A Houthi official claimed that the insurgents wanted to target “places that are not of great strategic importance” to send a “Clear Warning”. “If the Emirates continue to attack Yemen, they will not be able to withstand painful strikes in the future”, Abdellilah Hajar told Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen in the hands of the Houthis.
Additionally, a “minor fire” happened in “the new construction area of Abu Dhabi International Airport”, added the agency without mentioning a victim. The explosion and the fire ” probably “ been caused by « drone », from “flying objects” being ” fallen down “ at the two places affected, said WAM, citing the Abu Dhabi police who have launched an investigation.
The Emirates are members of a military coalition under Saudi command, which has intervened since 2015 in Yemen to support government forces at war against Houthi rebels backed by Iran. This attack attributed to the Houthis is the first to cause deaths on Emirati territory. The Houthis have in the past threatened to strike and claimed responsibility for attacks that have never been confirmed by the authorities of this Gulf oil monarchy.
Threat of a response from the Emirates
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates condemned this attack on “civilian installations on Emirati territory” and warned that she “will not go unpunished”. “The Emirates reserves the right to respond to these terrorist attacks and this sinister criminal escalation”, he said. “This thoughtlessness and irresponsible absurdity are doomed to annihilation”, warned on Twitter Anwar Gargash, the diplomatic adviser to the President of the Emirates, Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Allies of the Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have implicated the Yemeni rebels by denouncing an act “terrorist”. Iraq also condemned the attack, as did UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. “There is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen”, believes Antonio Guterres, urging “the parties to engage constructively and without preconditions” with his emissary “with the aim of advancing the political process to reach a comprehensive negotiated settlement to end the conflict in Yemen”, said the spokesperson.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, condemned “with the greatest firmness” these attacks. He called on the Houthis to put an end to their actions in Yemen and to engage in a political process to end the crisis. “France reaffirms its mobilization in favor of a cessation of hostilities throughout the country and a relaunch of discussions with a view to a global political agreement under the aegis of the United Nations”, Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.
Intensification of the conflict
The conflict in Yemen which has killed 377,000 people has intensified in recent weeks with an increase in raids by the military coalition and ground offensives by government forces. For their part, the rebels have multiplied attacks by means of missiles and drones against Saudi Arabia, a neighboring country of Yemen.
The Riyadh-led coalition on Monday reported an increase in the number of “Drone bombs launched by Houthis from Sanaa International Airport”. She also claimed to have “intercepted and destroyed eight drones launched in the direction of the kingdom” Saudi. Since taking over the capital Sanaa in 2014, the rebels have managed to seize large swaths of Yemeni territory, particularly in the north.
On January 3, the Houthis seized the boat Rwabee flying the flag of the Emirates, off the Yemeni port of Hodeïda, claiming that it was carrying military equipment. The coalition assured that the boat was transporting equipment for a Yemeni hospital and denounced an act of “piracy”.
Iran, which has difficult relations with the Emirates, openly supports the rebels while denying supplying them with weapons, which its political opponents, Saudi Arabia and the United States, accuse.