UAE seeks continued de-escalation with Iran despite Houthi attacks: diplomat

UAE seeks continued de-escalation with Iran despite Houthi attacks: diplomat
The UAE's ambassador to the UN said her country will continue on the path of de-escalation with Iran, despite last week's attack by the Tehran-backed Houthis on Abu Dhabi.
2 min read
26 January, 2022
UAE ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh said her country had a 'right to defend itself' [Getty]

United Arab Emirates ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh affirmed on Tuesday that her country seeks to continue de-escalating tensions with Iran, despite increasing attacks by Tehran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen.

"Over the past year or two, we have focused heavily on the path of de-escalation in the region, on reducing tension, and reaching out to various players and partners in the region," Nusseibeh told CNN.

The UAE’s senior national security advisor Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan met his Iranian counterpart Ali Shamkhani during a rare visit to Iran early last month, in a diplomatic move aimed at overcoming their long-standing differences and increasing co-operation.

Iran has long denied that it backs the Houthis militarily.

Nusseibeh said that the UAE needed more support from the US to intercept Houthi missiles.

The Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi, saw two missile attacks in a week. While an attack on Monday was thwarted, another on January 17 killed three people and wounded six others, the first such incident in the Gulf state.

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When asked about the recent Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on Yemen which killed more than 80 people and led to internet outages, Nusseibeh said those involved must be held accountable.

She added that ending the war in Yemen was the "ultimate goal of our military participation today… It is to defend ourselves, and increase pressure on them [Houthis], to sit at the negotiating table."

The Houthis have said they are ready to "expand their operations" against both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which has seen hundreds of Houthi attacks since the coalition’s campaign began in 2015.

The UAE has pressed the US to redesignate the Houthis as a terrorist organisation after Washington removed them from the global terror list in February last year.

US President Joe Biden said he was considering the redesignation following the 17 January attack on Abu Dhabi.