James Cleverly condemns Houthi aggression against UAE

British Foreign Office minister calls on Iran-backed group to lay down its weapons

James Cleverly, centre, arriving for the Nato-Russia Council in Brussels on January 12. AP

Britain’s Middle East minister condemned the strikes on Abu Dhabi by Yemen’s Houthi militia during a parliamentary session on Tuesday after calls on the international community to designate the group a terrorist organisation.

Answering a question from another MP, James Cleverly said the Houthi leadership was damaging Yemen by using its territory to attack the country’s neighbours. Two separate missile attacks on Abu Dhabi in recent weeks have been launched from Houthi bases.

"I would remind her that aggression has been perpetrated by the Houthis, both within Yemen and across the borders both into Saudi Arabia and to the United Arab Emirates," he said.

"We call upon the Houthis to lay down their arms, engage with the peace process, so we can bring peace to Yemen and properly help the Yemeni people lift themselves out of poverty.

"The recent loss of life in Yemen and, actually, in the nations surrounding Yemen that have received attacks emanating from the Houthis is terrible," he said. "Ultimately, the best thing that we can do as a leading member of the international community and penholder to the United Nations is to push for peace in Yemen.

"It will remain a priority for this government to pursue peace through the United Nations Special Envoy and others so that we can set the country on a road to recovery and out of the hell that it currently finds itself in."

Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, told the House of Commons she was worried that international talks with the Houthis’ main international sponsor, Iran, were coming close to breakdown.

"This negotiation is urgent and progress has not been fast enough," she said of the efforts to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the country’s nuclear programme.

"We continue to work in close partnership with our allies. But the negotiations are reaching a dangerous impasse. Iran must now choose whether it wants to conclude a deal or be responsible for the collapse of the JCPOA.

"And if the JCPOA collapses, all options are on the table."

Mr Cleverly was also invited by the former Cabinet minister Stephen Crabb to recognise the impact for peace of the Abraham Accords signed by the UAE, Bahrain and Israel to allow for mutual establishment of international relations.

The minister said "genuine joyous" developments had stemmed from the accords.

"The UK will continue to support the Abraham Accords, will continue to support greater joint working between the states in the region," he said. "Ultimately, that is the best way to pursue peace, to pursue prosperity and to pursue freedom for all."

British Minister of State for Middle East, North Africa and North America James Cleverly arrives at the Cabinet Office in London, Britain, January 24, 2022.  REUTERS / Henry Nicholls

The most recent Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi took place at 4.10am, shortly after the launcher fired two ballistic rockets towards the Emirati capital. Both were shot down by air defences protecting the city.

Last week, after a Houthi strike on an Adnoc oil storage plant killed three workers and injured six, the government said it “reserves the right to retaliate”.

A projectile fired at Abu Dhabi International Airport caused a minor fire in an under-construction extension area, away from the terminal, with no injuries.

Updated: January 25, 2022, 2:27 PM