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Israel offers UAE support after Houthi drone attack

Israel and the United States were swift to back Abu Dhabi amid an unprecedented drone attack by Iran-backed rebels.
Men stand next to a tank at a storage facility of oil giant ADNOC in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 17, 2022.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett offered to provide the United Arab Emirates with “security and intelligence support” following a deadly drone attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels yesterday.

Bennett’s office condemned the attack in a publicly released letter addressed to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed today. 

Israel stands with the UAE,” the letter read, adding, “The world should stand against terror.”

Bennett said he had “ordered the Israeli security establishment to provide their counterparts in the UAE with any assistance, should [bin Zayed] be interested.”

Several drones slammed into three fuel tanker trucks at a facility near Abu Dhabi and caused a fire at the international airport, killing three people and wounding six others on Monday.

The Saudi-led military coalition, of which the UAE is a member, said it intercepted nine drones launched toward Saudi Arabia territory following the strikes. 

The Iran-backed Houthis have been launching drones and missiles into Saudi Arabia in recent years, but Monday’s attack on Abu Dhabi marked a potentially serious escalation in regional states’ involvement in Yemen’s civil war.

The Saudi-led coalition bombed sites in Sanaa, Yemen’s rebel-held capital, in response to the UAE attacks. At least 12 people were reported killed.

The United States condemned the “terrorist attack in Abu Dhabi” and said it would work to hold the Houthis accountable. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan following the attack on Monday.

Washington has backed the Gulf coalition in Yemen’s civil war and spearheaded efforts to convince Arab leaders to sign normalization agreements with Israel to foster a strategic regional bulwark against Iran.

“We remain committed to the UAE’s security and ability to defend itself,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement today.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that US officials are in “constant dialogue” with Emirati counterparts about ways to strengthen the two countries’ defense partnership, but he said he was not aware of any requests for additional support from the UAE. 

“It’s an evolving threat,” Kirby said of the use of drones and other projectiles by Iran-backed militias in the region.