The UAE has a “legal and moral right” to defend itself against terrorist acts by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia, said Dr. Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE president, the official WAM news agency reported on Friday.
“The UAE has a legal and moral right to defend its lands, population and sovereignty, and will exercise this right to defend itself and prevent terrorist acts pursued by the Houthi group,” he was quoted as saying.
The comment was made during a call with Hans Grundberg, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Yemen, where the duo reviewed the nature of the Iran-backed Houthi attack in Abu Dhabi that led to a fuel tanker explosion killing three.
The UAE official also noted the expansion of the Houthi militia over the past three years and their lack of engagement in a “political solution to the crisis,” as the piracy of the UAE-flagged ‘Rwabee’ ship adds another dimension to the issue.
The Iran-backed Houthis seized the ship on January 3 off the Red Sea port of Hodeida, along with its 11-member crew, and rejected a United Nations request to release the vessel.
Gargash called for a “strong and firm position” against the “terrorist acts by the Houthi militia” from the international community.
He stressed the fact that the group repeatedly violated international laws and agreements, primarily, the Stockholm Agreement, which Gargash says is evident in the port of Hodeida which is reportedly being used for “maritime piracy and war financing.”
The Iran-backed militia frequently target civilian areas and energy facilities in Saudi Arabia with explosive-laden drones and ballistic missiles.
The Arab Coalition has been carrying out attacks against legitimate military Houthi targets in Yemen in recent months, warning civilians to not approach or gather around the targeted sites beforehand.
However, the recent drone attack in Abu Dhabi marks the first reported Iran-backed Houthi incident on UAE soil.
Despite the UAE’s firm stance against the recent acts of aggression, Gargash added that the country will continue to “support international efforts for a ceasefire and a political solution.”