A little-known militant group has claimed the latest drone attack on the United Arab Emirates, raising the possibility of widening security threats after a wave of assaults from Yemeni rebels.
Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq (True Pledge Brigades), which is believed to have ties with pro-Iran armed factions in Iraq, said it launched four drones at dawn on Wednesday targeting the wealthy Gulf state.
“The people of the Arabian peninsula launched a strike against the state of the ‘Emirates of evil’,” the militant group said in a statement.
The UAE announced the interception and destruction on Wednesday of three “hostile drones”, which follows three previous drone and missile attacks claimed by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels since January 17.
But the UAE did not blame the Yemeni rebels for Wednesday’s drone attacks, and the Houthis — engaged in a seven-year war with a Saudi-led coalition which includes UAE — did not claim responsibility.
The Houthi’s military spokesman Yahya Saree, however, “congratulated” Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq for the operation, in remarks purporting to indicate that the Yemenis were not behind the attack.
“We thank them for this honourable, responsible stance of solidarity with our dear people against the Emirati enemy,” Saree said.
We congratulate the jihadist operation carried out byo the Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq group- Sons of the Arabian Peninsula against the Emirati enemy yesterday- Wednesday.
We thank them for this honorable, responsible & solidarity stance with our dear people against Emirati enemy.
— Yahya Sare'e (@Yahya_Saree) February 3, 2022
The leader of the Yemeni insurgents, Abdulmalek al-Huthi, in remarks aired by the Houthis’ Al-Masirah TV channel Thursday, said that the UAE were “losers” for resorting to an “unjustified escalation.”
‘More Strikes to Come’
In claiming responsibility for the drone attack, Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq vowed “to continue to deliver painful strikes until the UAE stops interfering in the affairs of the countries of the region, primarily Yemen and Iraq.”
“The coming strikes will be more severe and painful,” their statement added.
Senior Houthi official Mohammed Ali al-Huthi, a leading figure in the rebels’ political wing, wrote a message on Twitter following the attack, before deleting the post.
“Thank you to free Iraq and its mujahideen,” it read.
UAE officials did not respond to requests for comment on Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq’s claim.
The group — described as “unknown” by a source from Kataeb Hezbollah, a powerful Iran-affiliated armed faction in Iraq — previously claimed an attack on Saudi Arabia in January 2021. The Houthis denied responsibility for that attack.
On Thursday, UAE state media reported that the Emirati and Iranian foreign ministers spoke over the phone on a number of issues of “common interest.”
During the call, UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan denounced the “Houthi militia’s terrorist attacks on the UAE,” the official WAM news agency said.
“He reiterated the need to stop the dangerous escalation in the region, and adhere to the political solution in Yemen,” WAM added.
Meanwhile, the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, visited Oman where he had talks with Huthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam, and Omani officials.
A tweet on the envoy’s account said Grundberg stressed “the urgency to take concrete steps towards a cessation of violence and engage on a sustainable settlement of the conflict in Yemen.”
The attacks have prompted the UAE’s staunch ally the United States to deploy a warship and fighter planes to help protect the Middle East financial hub, usually a safe haven in the volatile region.
In the Houthi-claimed attacks, three foreign oil workers were killed in a drone and missile assault on Abu Dhabi on January 17, while missiles were intercepted over UAE on January 24 and 31.