UAE intercepts 2 ballistic missiles over Abu Dhabi fired by Iran-backed Houthis

Attack on Emirates, days after another assault that killed 3, further escalates tensions across the Persian Gulf

Interceptors are launched over Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to hit incoming missiles, January 24, 2022. (video screenshot)
Interceptors are launched over Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to hit incoming missiles, January 24, 2022. (video screenshot)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates intercepted two ballistic missiles targeting Abu Dhabi early Monday, its state-run news agency reported, the latest attack to target the Emirati capital.

Defense officials said the missiles were fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The attack on Abu Dhabi, after another last week killed three people and wounded six, further escalates tensions across the Persian Gulf as Yemen’s years-long civil war grinds on.

That war, pitting Iranian-backed Houthi rebels against a Saudi-led coalition, has become a regional conflict as negotiations continue over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers. The collapse of the accord has sparked years of attacks across the region.

The state-run WAM news agency said that missile fragments fell harmlessly over the capital, Abu Dhabi.

The Emirates “is ready to deal with any threats” and “takes all necessary measures to protect the state from all attacks,” WAM quoted the UAE Defense Ministry as saying.

Videos posted to social media showed the sky over the capital light up before dawn Monday, with points of light looking like interceptor missiles in the sky. The videos corresponded to known features of Abu Dhabi.

The missile fire disrupted traffic into Abu Dhabi International Airport, home to the long-haul carrier Etihad, for about an hour after the attack.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the attack came a week after Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed an attack on the Emirati capital that killed three people and wounded six others.

In recent days, a Saudi-led coalition that the UAE backs unleashed punishing airstrikes targeting Yemen, knocking the Arab world’s poorest country off the internet and killing over 80 people at a detention center.

The Houthis had threatened to take revenge against the Emirates and Saudi Arabia over those attacks. On Sunday, the Saudi-led coalition said a Houthi-launched ballistic missile landed in an industrial area in Jizan, Saudi Arabia, slightly wounding a foreigner.

A Houthi military spokesman did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press on Monday’s attack.

The hard-line Iranian daily newspaper Kayhan, whose editor-in-chief was appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, just Sunday published a front-page article quoting Houthi officials that the UAE would be attacked again with a headline: “Evacuate Emirati commercial towers.”

The newspaper in 2017 had faced a two-day publication ban after it ran a headline saying Dubai was the “next target” for the Houthis.

Israel has voiced strong backing for the UAE following the attack. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday offered Israel’s “security and intelligence support” to the UAE following the attack.

On Thursday he spoke with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“The Israeli prime minister affirmed his country’s support for all that the UAE is doing to defend its security against these attacks, stressing the need to confront terrorist forces that threaten stability and peace in the region,” the UAE’s official WAM news agency said.

And speaking to top military brass on Thursday, Bennett said Israel’s main mission is to hit the Iranian regime and its proxies, in an apparent reference to Hezbollah, Hamas, and other groups backed by Tehran.

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