Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for a deadly drone and ballistic missile attack which rocked the United Arab Emirates' capital of Abu Dhabi on Monday. The strike, which demonstrated an increasingly sophisticated capability among the Houthis, hit an oil facility owned by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. A Houthi military spokesman said that the group "carried out… a successful military operation" against "important and sensitive Emirati sites and installations."
"The attack killed two Indian nationals and one Pakistani as three tankers at the site exploded, police said," The Associated Press reports. "Six people were also wounded at the facility, which is near Al-Dhafra Air Base, a massive Emirati installation also home to American and French forces."
The AP also suggested a possible attack during the same aerial offensive which hit Abu Dhabi International Airport, given a fire broke out there. Subsequent satellite images which emerged showed significant damage at the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. facility, which is the state-owned energy firm providing much of the Arab Gulf country's national oil wealth.
On Tuesday, there was a surprise offer of intelligence assistance from Israel, which follows the September 2020 signing of normalization between the UAE and Israel under the Abraham Accords.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wrote a letter to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed saying that he "ordered the Israeli security establishment to provide their counterparts in the UAE with any assistance" in order to defend against future potential attacks.
The Times of Israel reports that PM Bennett said the following:
“Israel stands with the UAE. I stand with [Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Zayed. The world should stand against terror.”
In a letter to bin Zayed, Bennett said Jerusalem was committed to working with Abu Dhabi “in the ongoing battle against extremist forces in the region, and we will continue to partner with you to defeat our common enemies."
The UAE has vowed revenge, with the UAE-Saudi coalition have already launched fresh strikes "targeting Houthi camps and headquarters" in Sanaa, according to Gulf media.
VIA @Quicktake: Satellite photos show the aftermath of a deadly drone strike on an oil facility in Abu Dhabi.Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for Monday's attack https://t.co/OcACrqqyi3 pic.twitter.com/8SvKsGNnwG— Traffic Updates + Useful Info (@trafficbutter) January 18, 2022
At the same time UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan announced that "We condemn the Houthi terrorist militia’s targeting of civilian areas and facilities on UAE soil today… this sinful targeting will not go unpunished." A UAE statement further dubbed it a "heinous criminal escalation."
The timing of this increased security partnership between Israel and the UAE - which up until the tail-end of the Trump administration didn't even have official relations - is further interesting given the ongoing diplomatic talks between the Saudis and Iranians which strive to mutually reopen embassies. Certainly Israel getting deeper into assisting the coalition in the Yemen conflict will be alarming for Tehran, pitting archenemies Israel and Iran on opposite sides of another regional war in a more direct way.