After the US statement, how do the Houthi attacks affect the image of the UAE?
Washington- The US State Department’s issuance of a “rare” statement warning its citizens against traveling to the UAE because of threats to their security and interests raised questions about the effects of this and the repercussions of the Houthi attacks and their consequences.
Last Thursday, the travel warning data for the Emirates, which was previously limited to public health reasons related to the spread and outbreak of the new Corona virus (Covid-19), was updated.
Warning and exhortation
The statement stressed the UAE’s status as a “level four = not travel” country, and urged Americans to “reconsider travel due to the threat of missile or drone attacks.”
The statement said that there is still a serious and continuing source of concern, especially in light of what it described as the rebel groups in Yemen declaring their intention to attack neighboring countries, including the UAE.
Such a statement is rare, as the UAE was seen in the United States as one of the safest places in the Middle East.
opposite of hope
In an interview with Al-Jazeera Net, the director of the “Institution for Gulf States Studies” Giorgio Cafiero considered that the recent developments were contrary to what the UAE side hoped.
The UAE was subjected to attacks targeting the airports of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, an oil refinery and a number of other locations, which resulted in the killing of 3 people and the injury of 6 others.
Cafiero said that “the recent attacks between the UAE and the Houthis shed light on the pivotal role of the UAE once again and increasingly in the war of the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia against the Houthi rebels.”
The Emirati reaction came violently in the form of revenge attacks with the participation of the Saudi Air Force, where Houthi targets and formations were bombed, which resulted in many civilian casualties, according to neutral press reports.
Attacks and Consequences
The UAE had announced the withdrawal of its forces from Yemen before the end of 2019, and then relied mainly on the support of the Giants Brigades.
Cafiero considered that the consequences of the recent attacks would “bringer Riyadh and Abu Dhabi closer, given how some unresolved issues in Yemen have affected Saudi and Emirati conflicting interests in recent times (especially when forces loyal to Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi were loyal to Saudi Arabia). – They collide with the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council forces), from here these attacks will give a boost to Emirati-Saudi relations.
Cafiero also considered that “how the leadership in Abu Dhabi responds to this message from the Houthis will take more time to fully assess, the UAE does not want to be seen as weak, but at the same time it wants to avoid being drawn into Yemen’s multiple and intersecting crises.”
For her part, Director of the Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council in Washington, Barbara Slavin, considered that the Houthi attacks with drones and missiles on the United Arab Emirates only deepen the need to find a solution to the war in Yemen and calm regional tensions on a larger scale.
Commenting on the recent developments, Slavin said, “Whatever gains that UAE proxies may achieve in Yemen in recent months have been undermined by the continued killing of civilians in the Saudi-led air war, using American-made aircraft and bombs.”
“The UAE has eaten more than it can digest by being deeply involved in regional conflicts,” Slavin said.
War and Effects
Recent attacks have revealed that the UAE is not completely immune to the regional chaos caused by armed conflicts in the region.
Cafiero says that “there are fears in Abu Dhabi and Dubai of attacks that cause deaths and injuries, and there are also fears of any possible future attacks, which harms the UAE’s reputation as a very stable and secure country that provides good opportunities for investors, profitable deals for businessmen, and attractions for tourism.” “.
The same spokesman stressed that “the UAE does not want its financial, tourism, real estate and other sectors to suffer from the damage these attacks have caused to the country’s reputation.”
For her part, Slavin stressed that “the UAE is promoting its stability as a major attraction for international trade, investment and tourism activities,” noting that “Houthi attacks using Iranian drones and missiles endanger this.”
pressure and messages
While Cafiero believes that “the Houthis consider the UAE weak, and they likely believe that more attacks against it will put great pressure on Abu Dhabi to change its participation in the Yemen war.”
He added: There is a clear message that the Houthis are sending to the Emiratis, which is that the territory of the UAE will suffer from attacks as long as Abu Dhabi sponsors the factions fighting the Houthis, which has cost them so far a lot of the gains they made during 2020 and 2021.
For his part, the foreign affairs expert at the Atlantic Council, Andrew Peake, pointed out that “the only real strategic damage that missiles can cause is striking Dubai, which is primarily a commercial port and a tourist destination, and its revenues depend on its image, and continuous missile attacks can cause damage.” It will profoundly affect the economy by undermining its image as a safe liberal front.”
In Beck’s view, there is also a potential harm that the attacks will cause “internal political conflict in Abu Dhabi, but it has not yet happened.”