International powers denounce Houthi attack on the UAE

The international response to the attack has been swift, with the Arab coalition positioning itself in favour of Abu Dhabi

AP/HANI MOHAMMED  -   Houthi rebels in Yemen have blocked half of UN aid delivery programmes in the war-torn country

The Yemeni civil war continues to take on an important international character. Seven years into a conflict that continues to perpetuate serious human rights violations and, far from abating, continues to involve various foreign powers.

In response to an attack by the Houthis on an oil facility in Abu Dhabi, which killed three people, the Saudi-led Arab coalition has announced the start of a series of airstrikes against strongholds and camps in the capital, Sana'a. 

PHOTO/Planet Labs PBC via Ap  -A suspected drone attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels targeting a key oil facility in Abu Dhabi killed three people and sparked another fire at Abu Dhabi's international airport Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.

Following the announcement, the Arab alliance attacked the home of an air force officer affiliated with the Shiite Houthi rebels, leaving at least 12 dead and 11 wounded in one of the most violent attacks in recent years.

Among the dead is the former head of the Air Force Academy, Brigadier General Abdullah Qassim al Junai, along with members of his family. As announced by Riyadh, these attacks by the Arab alliance are part of the strategy of Arab cooperation in Yemen since 2015. 

PHOTO/ Oficina de Medios del Grupo Al-Huthi / AFP - An image capture taken from a video provided by the al-Huthi Media Office shows Huthi military spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Saree speaking at a press conference.

In this regard, the alliance aims to defeat the Houthi leaders, supported by Iran, who hold the city of Sadah and other surrounding territories, in addition to the capital. In this latest counter-attack, the coalition has argued that it has taken place "in response to the threat and military necessity", pointing out that it has also managed to shoot down "terrorist leaders" who are said to be located in the north of the Yemeni capital.

They also noted that "F-15 strike aircraft destroyed two ballistic missile launchers used in the attack" and that "perpetrators of hostile attacks against civilians in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will be held accountable".

PHOTO/REUTERS -  Supporters of the Houthi movement carry a mock drone during a rally held to commemorate Ashura in Saada, Yemen 10 September 2019.

They have warned in a statement that area forces are conducting "24-hour air operations" over Sana'a and warned civilians to "stay away" from both camps and Houthi militia gatherings.

The official spokesman for the coalition forces, Brigadier General Turki Al-Maliki, called the latest attacks on Abu Dhabi "war crimes for which the perpetrators must be held accountable" and said that "the terrorist militia" threatens "regional and international security". Al-Maliki added that the Coalition will continue to take "the necessary preventive measures" in order to deter "such violent behaviour against civilians".

International rejection

In response to the attack on the UAE, both Arab countries and international organisations have expressed their support for the Emirati country, which Abu Dhabi has described as "a heinous crime outside international and humanitarian laws". 

OCHA/Giles Clarke  - Child walking in Aden, Yemen, an area that has been affected by war since 2015.

In response to the attack on the UAE, both Arab countries and international organisations have expressed their support for the Emirati country, which Abu Dhabi has described as "a heinous crime outside international and humanitarian laws".

In a statement, the UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that the Houthi militia "continues its unchecked crimes in an effort to spread terrorism and chaos" and urged the international community to "condemn these attacks" against civilians and facilities. 

AFP/MOHAMMED HUWAIS - A Yemeni youth carries food aid distributed by the Yadon Tabney Development Foundation, in Sana'a, 17 May 2020.

This condemnation has been strong from both the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that this attack will "increase the resolve and determination of the two countries to continue to confront the Houthis". The Saudi foreign ministry has also stated that the kingdom has been "the target of many terrorist attacks by the Houthi terrorist militia that deliberately and systematically targeted civilians".

It further states that, in order to achieve a comprehensive political solution that would bring all Yemeni parties together, the kingdom has put forward various "political initiatives" but, in response, the Houthi militia has continued "its intransigence to carry out cowardly attacks on the territory of the Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, targeting international shipping lanes".

AFP PHOTO/SAUDI ROYAL PALACE/BANDAR AL-JALOUD  -  Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

This statement comes just weeks after the Houthis hijacked an Emirati cargo ship, an event that heightened tensions in the conflict and hindered any peace process.

Subsequently, the secretary general of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf, described the aggression as "a cowardly terrorist attack", saying it was "a war crime that endangers the lives of civilians, which requires that terrorists be held accountable in accordance with international and humanitarian law".

REUTERS/KHALED ABDULLAH - People crowd for food rations from a charity kitchen in Sanaa, Yemen, 20 July 2020.

Morocco was another Arab country that strongly condemned the attack. Moroccan King Mohammed VI condemned "the shameful attack on innocent people and civilian facilities" and reaffirmed the kingdom's continued support for the Emirates in "defending its national security and protecting its citizens".

In response, the United States has also rejected the Houthi attacks and expressed its "condolences" to the UAE "for the victims of this terrorist act and its wishes for a speedy recovery for the wounded". A White House statement said that "Washington's commitment to the security of the United Arab Emirates is unwavering" and underlined "the support of Emirati partners in the face of all threats to their homeland".

AP/MARIMAN EL_MOFTY - Yemeni fighters backed by the Saudi-led coalition on the Kassara frontline near Marib, Yemen, 20 June 2021.

From the United Kingdom, British Foreign Minister Elizabeth Terrace also condemned the attacks in a tweet in which she expressed her condemnation "in the strongest terms" of the attacks, which she described as "terrorist".

Along with the United States and the United Kingdom, the French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, also expressed his rejection and indicated that the attack against the Emirates was "a threat to stability", while the European Union stressed that the attack against civilians "is unacceptable" and that this "increases the risk of an escalation of the conflict in Yemen and undermines efforts to end the war".

AFP/FAYEZ NURELDINE  - Spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition, Colonel Turki al-Maliki

With this development, the war in Yemen enters a new episode that makes a possible solution more difficult. The Houthis, the main threat to the permanent government, continue to wage offensives that plunge the country deeper into conflict every day. Yemen, the scene of one of the biggest humanitarian crises, is trying to survive while the UN remains committed to seeking a peaceful solution.

In this context, the UN Secretary General's spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said that "a political settlement negotiated through an inclusive dialogue is the only way to end the conflict and end the current humanitarian crisis".

However, dialogue seems increasingly difficult and, in the meantime, the conflict is escalating, leaving more than 20,000 civilians dead and wounded since 2015 and 24 million people in need of humanitarian aid, according to Amnesty International.