Conflict in Yemen Escalates After Drone Strikes Peak in the U.A.E and Saudi Arabia.

Recently, the U.A.E intercepted another Houthi ballistic missile during the Isreali President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Abu Dhabi. Joe Biden condemned the attack and made sure to keep in “daily contact” with the U.A.E to discuss the threats. Abu Dhabi police investigations have also found parts of small planes that could be drones at the sites of the Mussafah and Abu Dhabi airport.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels came to fame after taking over the Saada province and Sanaa during early 2014. By the middle of 2015, a Saudi-led military force fought against the Houthis in an attempt to restore Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government. In response, the Houthis have sent countless missile and drone attacks to nearby Saudi Arabia. 

The U.A.E  joined the Saudi coalition against the Houthis and the Giants Brigades, a militia composed of southern Yemenis who are pushing into Houthi territory at al-Bayda and Marib, territory that the Houthis have been hoping to capture for months. Prior to January, the last fatal conflict between the U.A.E and the Houthi forces took place in 2018 when U.A.E-backed forces fought for control of the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. 

A series of shots and threats were sent from each side in response to previous confrontations. The infinite loop of war will lead to more and more death and pain. On January 17, a Houthi drone attack blew up a fuel tank in Abu Dhabi, killing three people. The Saudi-led coalition responded with an increase in airstrikes on Houthi-related military targets that reportedly hit hospitals, airports, a water facility, a school and a detention center in Saada that killed at least 80 people. On January 24, the U.A.E claimed to have destroyed and stopped two Houthi ballistic missiles fired at Abu Dhabi from Yemen. 

Global leaders have shown strong support for the U.A.E in its battle against the Houthi rebels. Liz Truss, the U.K. foreign secretary wrote on Twitter: “I condemn in the strongest terms the Houthi-claimed terrorist attacks on the United Arab Emirates,”. Anthony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of State, also showed his support for the U.A.E and promised a coordinated response with Emirati officials. Adding on, Jake Sullivan, the U.S national security advisor, released a strong statement in response to drone strikes on Abu Dhabi saying, “The Houthis have claimed responsibility for this attack, and we will work with the U.A.E. and international partners to hold them accountable…. Our commitment to the security of the U.A.E. is unwavering and we stand beside our Emirati partners against all threats to their territory.”

“The goal of striking the heart of the U.A.E is to deter it,” Muhammad al-Bukhaiti, a senior Houthi political official said. “We advise the U.A.E to learn from this lesson. Otherwise, our strikes will continue. And its ability to withstand such strikes is much weaker than that of Saudi Arabia.” 

The war is set to escalate and worsen the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.  The World Food Program has warned that more than five million people are extremely close to famine and 50,000 are already living in famine-like conditions. In addition, four million people have already been internally displaced during the ongoing war. A stalemate situation is likely to continue as neither side has prevailed militarily.

Many believe the only way to prevent millions of people in famine is for the Saudi, the Emirates, and Houthis to enter diplomatic negotiations. UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres expressed his discomfort in Saudi-led airstrikes in Sana’a by calling on both sides of the war to meet nowhere but at the negotiating table. James Farwell, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute also said, “The Houthis are trying to bring pressure to the Saudi-UAE coalition to bring things to a favourable close … The only way this [conflict] is going to be resolved is if the Saudi, the Emirates and Houthis sit directly together and work things out.”

By: Kevin Niu