UAE will defend itself by all means necessary, say diplomats

Emirati ambassadors call for more measures to be taken against Houthi aggression

Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE's permanent representative to the UN. Sipa Press
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The UAE's ambassadors to the US and the UN said their government would take all necessary measures, “proportionate and consistent with international law”, to defend the country from attack.

In an article published in The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the US, and Lana Nusseibeh, permanent representative to the UN, denounced an attack by Yemen’s Houthi militant group on the Emirates in the early hours of Monday, the third in as many weeks.

Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE's ambassador to the US, speaks at the UAE's 50th National Day celebrations in Washington.

They called on Washington to relist the Iran-backed Houthi movement as a terrorist organisation.

The UAE's air defence systems took down a ballistic missile at 12.20am on Monday before it could reach its target. But a strike by the militants on a fuel depot in Abu Dhabi on January 17 killed three people.

The attacks drew condemnation from around the world, including from the US and the UN Security Council.

“The denunciation reflects the global consensus that the Houthis’ disregard for civilian casualties and targeting of civilian infrastructure is a threat to collective peace and security,” the two diplomats said.

They said the Houthis' threats are a “looming crisis” which requires “broad diplomatic pressure, tougher US and international sanctions, intensified efforts to block weapons proliferation, and the development and wider deployment of effective countermeasures”.

Last February, the US removed the Houthis from the list of foreign terrorist organisations to encourage peace talks and reduce hostilities amid a civil war that has raged in Yemen for seven years.

The diplomats stressed the importance of cutting the weapons pipeline to the Houthis. They cited a recent UN Security Council report that found Iran is supplying illicit arms to the Houthis in breach of the UN arms embargo. Lebanon's Hezbollah has been sharing missile and drone knowledge.

The diplomats said systems would continue to be developed to counter the technology provided to the Yemeni group.

“The UAE will intensify its co-operation with the US to expand and improve this protective umbrella for itself, US assets in the region and other Gulf allies,” Mr Otaiba and Ms Nusseibeh said.

“The Houthis and their backers are attacking a new vision of the future taking shape in the UAE and around the region of religious co-existence, women’s empowerment, economic opportunity and global engagement.

“Less shooting and more talking is the only way to build the Middle East neighbourhood we all want.”

Updated: February 01, 2022, 1:13 PM