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February 3, 2022

The United Arab Emirates said three hostile drones that entered its airspace on Wednesday were intercepted, days after it fended off a missile attack by fighters based in Yemen.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi group has attacked the Gulf oil exporter and Middle East business hub three times in recent weeks, undermining its image as an oasis of security in a volatile region. The Houthis did not immediately claim the attack on their official channels and the UAE Defense Ministry statement did not assign blame.

But a little-known group called the True Promise Brigades said it was responsible in a statement posted on Twitter, according to U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks designated terrorist and extremist organizations. It was not immediately clear where the group was based, and the claim could not be immediately verified.

Oil markets didn’t react immediately to the news.

True Promise Brigades claimed an attack in Saudi Arabia in January last year. The group has ties to Iraq-based militia Kataib Hezbollah, according to a report from U.S.-based think tank the Washington Institute.

The UAE has supported both government forces and separatists in Yemen since the Houthis began seizing swaths of the country in 2014. Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian urged a political solution to the war in Yemen in a call late Wednesday with his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“We believe the continuation of the war and spread of conflicts and disputes is in the interest of no one in the region,” he said, according to a ministry statement. Iran denies the U.S. and Saudi Arabian claims that it gives military support to the Houthis.

Rising stakes
The attacks on the UAE have stoked tensions in the oil-exporting region. The U.S. said this week it would deploy fighter jets to help the UAE fend off the Houthi threat. The Gulf nation hosts about 2,000 U.S. troops at Al Dhafra base in Abu Dhabi.

Iran’s longtime support of the Houthis means the incidents could upset fragile diplomatic efforts to ease frictions with Gulf Arab neighbours as well as broader efforts to restore Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

SOURCE: Bloomberg