A Houthi drone attack near Abu Dhabi airport killed at least three people and set off several explosions on January 17, 2022 and a statement by Abu Dhabi Police stated that three tanker trucks carrying fuel exploded in the Musaffah area of the emirate after it caught fire and investigations indicated a drone attack.
The explosion hit three oil tankers near a compound of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) in the Mussafah Industrial Area, a pipeline located about 22 kilometers from downtown Abu Dhabi where there are 36 fuel tanks. The site of the explosion is a short distance from Al Dhafra Air Base, a military facility that hosts US and French forces.
The site of the ADNOC facility where the explosion occurred in the tanks is located about 1,800 km northeast of Saada, the stronghold of the Houthis in Yemen.
The Houthis have previously claimed responsibility for attacks on Abu Dhabi airport. The Houthis used bomb-laden drones to launch inaccurate terrorist attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE during the war.
The Houthi militia also fired missiles at Saudi airports, oil facilities and pipelines and used booby-trapped boats to launch attacks on the main shipping routes.
A spokeswoman for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, condemned the attack on the United Arab Emirates and called on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and prevent any escalation. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the attack would threaten regional stability.
Britain, France and Germany had previously condemned the attacks on Saudi Arabia, which were claimed by the Houthis, saying that the proliferation of drones poses a serious threat to regional stability. The attack on Musaffah Industrial came on the heels of the loss of the military offensive in Yemen’s Marib.
The UAE, a member of the coalition, has supported and trained local Yemeni forces that recently joined the fight against the Houthis in the energy-producing areas of Shabwa and Marib in Yemen.
The attack can be considered a new form of threat, by means of drones, against the UAE and the region. This means that unless regional countries can find a solution to deter Houthi militia attacks, the region will remain vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
The UAE has been fighting a war within the Arab coalition to support legitimacy in Yemen since 2015 and despite the withdrawal of its forces from Yemen, it is still supportive of the Arab coalition and legitimacy in Yemen.
The increasing use of drones by Iran and its allies in the Middle East is raising alarm in Washington. The United States has imposed new sanctions on Iran over its supply of drones and related materials to rebel groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Ethiopia.
The majority of Houthi unmanned naval attacks targeted commercial cargo ships such as tankers or cargo tankers and targeted civilian ports and oil production and distribution facilities.
On October 29, 2021, the US Treasury announced new sanctions against two prominent members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, two other individuals, and two companies that the United States says is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's drone program.
The US Treasury said the proliferation of Iranian drones throughout the region threatens international peace and stability. Houthi rebels have used drones to target and assassinate Yemeni leaders and have also struck key national infrastructure in places like Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
It is likely that the current technology of the most advanced drones could be used to launch terrorist attacks in the future.
Drones, especially those that are used for military purposes, have become a serious threat to many countries of the world. In addition to being used to collect information from outside the borders of states, they are also capable of launching “suicide attacks.”
The danger is also that they are difficult to detect by conventional radars, especially modern UAVs with stealth capabilities. Drones are a new threat to maritime navigation.
The Houthis now possess a range of cruise and ballistic missiles, drones and other confrontational weapons capable of striking targets throughout the Gulf and the region.
This requires the United Nations to condemn Iranian interference in support of the Houthi militias and to demand that Iran abandons its support in the Vienna negotiations when supporting the Houthi militias.
Houthi and Iranian attacks in the Gulf have repercussions for US partners, such as Israel, which faces a significant threat of confrontation from Iran-linked groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and the Palestinian territories.
There is no doubt that the Houthi naval threat is real and escalating to commercial ships, so the best measures must be taken to avoid approaching drones, to preserve the Gulf or the Red Sea.
It has become necessary to support countries facing the challenges of the militias - the Houthis, armed factions and chaos, to impose security and disarm those militias.
It is important to hold international forums or conferences in order to show the dangers of using drones by Iran and its loyal militias, especially in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and other countries.
What the United States, the United Nations, and the Security Council should do is impose sanctions on the Houthi militia in Yemen and put it on the terrorist list. It should highlight the military attacks of the Houthis and Iranians against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah’s continued supply of weapons systems to the Houthis.
Jassim Mohamad is a researcher who focuses on international security & counter-terrorism; his work covers Europe, Middle East (Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran and Yemen), and African Sahel. He is the Head of the European Centre for Counterterrorism and Intelligence Studies ECCI.