Houthi rebels attack the United Arab Emirates

It is an unprecedented attack in more ways than one. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the scene, Monday, January 17, of several explosions on its territory. Three tank trucks exploded “near the Adnoc storage tanks”, the Abu Dhabi oil company in Musaffah, an industrial area located about twenty kilometers west of the capital. A Pakistani and two Indians were killed, and six people were injured, according to the official WAM agency.

→ ANALYSIS. In Yemen, the coalition revises its strategy before the battle of Marib

One “minor fire” also occurred in “the new construction area of ​​Abu Dhabi International Airport”, without causing casualties. In both cases, the Abu Dhabi police mentioned ” probably “ drones, “flying objects” being ” fallen down “ at the affected sites.

A “Clear Warning”

At the same time, the Houthi rebels announced, through the voice of the spokesman, Yahya Saree, a “major military operation in the United Arab Emirates”. The explosion and fire in the Emirates were not officially claimed by the rebel leaders, but Abdellilah Hajar, a rebel official in Sanaa claimed that the Houthis 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,” he told Agence France-Presse.

Emiratis and Houthis have been clashing in Yemen since 2015, when Abu Dhabi joined the Saudi-led coalition to support government forces against rebels.

The unprecedented nature of Monday’s events is due to the fact that the attack took place not on Saudi soil, where they have multiplied in recent months, but on Emirati soil, often presented as a haven of peace in a tormented region.

However, this is not the first time that the Houthis have targeted the interests of the UAE, since they are still in possession of the Rwabee, a boat flying the flag of the Emirates, seized on January 3 off the port of Hodeïda, in the Red Sea, west of Yemen.

Ever more sophisticated drones

But above all, Monday’s attacks are seen as retaliation, days after pro-government forces, backed by the Emirates, drove the Houthis out of the oil-rich province of Shabwa, thus complicating their advance towards the coveted region of Marib, the last loyalist stronghold.

The Emirati forces, which had distanced themselves from the coalition two years ago, have recently returned to Yemeni territory by supporting local militias and the so-called “Giants Brigade” (Al Al Almaliqah), commanded by Abdul Rahman Abou Zahra Mahrami. These forces, which had participated in the Battle of Hodeïda, had left this strategic port region at the end of November, precisely to reposition themselves in the key region of Marib and compromise the Houthi aims.

→ ANALYSIS. In Yemen, the battle for control of Marib intensifies

However, in view of these attacks, the Houthis also seem to have upped their game: in recent months, the Iranian-backed rebels have developed advanced versions of their drones, capable of long-range strikes with greatly improved accuracy, indicates the Wall Street Journal, who was able to consult a draft report by a UN panel of experts. On Monday, the coalition also said it had noted an upsurge in “drone bombs launched by Houthis from Sanaa International Airport”, taken in 2014, and located… 1,800 kilometers from Abu Dhabi.

Deputy head of the Houthi Ministry of Information, Nasr Al Din Amir, has already warned that more attacks are planned: “The purpose of this operation is to respond to the escalation, to deter them. And if they continue in this direction, we will continue to respond with our military operations against the UAE,” he indicated, raising fears of a new spiral of violence. This conflict with multiple equations has already killed more than 377,000 people since 2014 in Yemen.

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