MbZ 'shocked' after US bills UAE for military assistance following Houthi attack

MbZ 'shocked' after US bills UAE for military assistance following Houthi attack
Washington's move reportedly "proved" Mohammed bin Zayed's feeling that the US had "abandoned the UAE" during a crucial point, as Houthi rebels attacks prompted security concerns in the region.
2 min read
13 May, 2023
MbZ and UAE officials were "upset" after the US handed a bill following its military assistance in the Gulf country [Getty]

UAE officials were reportedly "shocked" when the US requested to be paid for the military assistance it provided Abu Dhabi following a Houthi attack on the UAE capital in January last year.

The revelation was made by Axios reporter Barak Ravid in his newly-published book "Trump’s Peace", who said officials from both countries disclosed the information.

The incident, carried out on an oil facility by using drones and missiles, claimed the lives of one Pakistani national and two Indians.

Mohammed bin Zayed, commonly known by the initials MbZ, felt "upset" by the incident amid a strain in US-UAE ties.

Following the attack, MbZ held an emergency meeting with military commanders to decide on immediate measures in a bid to avoid another attack on the country.

The Emirati military informed the then-Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, now ruler of the UAE, that the best way to deter future attacks is by always using Emirati Air Force F-16s and Mirage 2000s in the air, according to Ravid, citing officials.

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In a bid for that to work, the UAE would require the refuelling capabilities of US Air Force KC-135 strategic tankers. The US then complied with the Emirati request and refuelled the jet tankers on numerous occasions.

However, several days later, a US military attaché held a meeting with senior UAE military officials, handing them a monetary bill for refuelling the jets, much to the UAE’s surprise.

Consequently, MbZ said he felt "offended" by the incident, which further "proved" his growing feeling that the US had abandoned his country "in a time of need".

The event soured the relationship between the US and the UAE, which was already at a low point.

Sometime after, US officials then expressed "regret" over the move, calling it a "mistake in both style and substance", Axios said.

US-UAE relations took a further hit due to Abu Dhabi's reluctance to take a strong stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, as well as the country's willingness to purchase Chinese weaponry in the previous year – which prompted "serious concern" over the UAE’s relationship with Beijing.

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Moreover, the US request for a fee came at a time when Washington stepped up its financial support for Saudi Arabia's military.

Axios said that it took at least two months to start mending ties between the two, which was boosted by US President Joe Biden's meeting with the UAE ruler in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last year.