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Houthi missile intercepted by UAE during Israeli president’s first visit

Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, talk as they walk through an airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates January 30, 2022. Amos Ben-Gershom/Government Press Office (GPO)/Handout via REUTERS

On Monday, the UAE announced that it had intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, as the UAE welcomed Israel’s President Isaac Herzog for the first time.

The news: The attack was the third in two weeks on the U.S.-allied UAE, including a deadly hit on Abu Dhabi’s capital on Jan 17, amid an escalation of the Yemen war between the Houthis and a Saudi-led coalition.

  • The latest missile attack was intercepted 20 minutes after midnight, according to the Emirati defence ministry, and its debris fell in an empty area. It did not specify if the attack was directed against Abu Dhabi or Dubai, the region’s commercial and tourism capital.
  • It happened while Israel’s president was in Abu Dhabi, where he met with the UAE’s de facto ruler, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to discuss security and bilateral relations.
  • An Israeli official informed that Herzog spent the night in Abu Dhabi. Despite the Houthi attack, he will continue his visit to the UAE, according to his office.
  • On Monday, he will travel to Dubai for the Expo 2020 world fair.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog meets with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates January 30, 2022. Mohamed Al Hammadi/Ministry of Presidential Affairs/WAM/Handout via REUTERS

Facts and claims: In 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed the “Abraham Accords,” which were mediated by the United States.

  • The civil aviation authority of the United Arab Emirates reported that air traffic in the Gulf country, which is a key international travel hub, was normal and that all aircraft were operating normally.
  • According to the UAE’s defence ministry, coalition aeroplanes destroyed missile installations in Yemen.
  • A Houthi military official in Yemen claimed the organisation would disclose details of a fresh military operation “deep within” the UAE within hours.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog meets with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates January 30, 2022. Mohamed Al Hammadi/Ministry of Presidential Affairs/WAM/Handout via REUTERS

The backstory: The UAE is a member of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen for nearly seven years in a conflict that is primarily perceived as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

  • The Houthis, who have routinely launched missile and drone assaults on Saudi Arabia, have warned that unless the UAE stops “interfering” in Yemen, they will continue to target it.
  • The UAE’s military participation on the ground mostly ceased in 2019, but it maintains control over Yemeni forces it arms and trains, which have recently joined clashes against the Houthis in crucial energy-producing regions.

What’s going on: On Monday’s interception in the UAE, there were no social media posts. Several persons have been summoned, according to the public prosecutor, for distributing videos of defence systems intercepting a prior Houthi rocket attack.

  • In the battle, which has killed tens of thousands of people and brought Yemen to the verge of famine, the coalition has also unleashed lethal air attacks on Houthi-held areas in the last two weeks.
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