As the United Arab Emirates gets further drawn into the Saudi-led intervention of Yemen’s civil war, new claims made by anti-government Houthi rebels suggest they managed to carry out a drone attack on Abu Dhabi International Airport. If true, the rebels (which the UAE calls “terrorist militias”), would have managed to fly the so-called armed ‘Sammad-3’ military drone some 1,500 kilometres.
Authorities in the UAE have refuted the claims, denying yesterday’s alleged attack ever took place. However, there’s been wild speculation of a coverup after an earlier Tweet from Abu Dhabi International Airport said there had been an “incident” in the airside area of the airport at about 4:00 pm on Thursday.
A spokesperson said the incident involved a supply vehicle but declined to provide any further details. A later Tweet said Abu Dhabi Airport would “monitor the situation with the concerned authorities and further updates will be made in due course.” There has been no word about the incident from the airport, the General Civil Aviation Authority or the UAE’s official news agency since that Tweet.
There were reports of a small number of inbound flights facing delays around the time of the incident with some aircraft being forced to enter a holding pattern before being given clearance to land. No photo or video evidence of the alleged incident have surfaced.
“Our attack on Abu Dhabi airport shows our forces are no paper tiger like our enemies claim,” claimed General Abdullah al-Jafri, a spokesman for the Houthi rebels. His remarks were reported by the Al Jazeera news channel who led the initial reporting on the claimed attack.
Abu Dhabi Airports can confirm that there has been an incident involving a supply vehicle in Terminal 1 airside area of the airport at approximately 4:00 pm today.This incident has not affected operations at AUH and flights continue to arrive and depart as scheduled. (1/2)
— Abu Dhabi Airport (@AUH) July 26, 2018
Al Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar who has itself faced a Saudi-led blockade which the UAE is part of. Commentators have been quick to point out that Qatar would stand to benefit from Abu Dhabi and it’s state-owned airline, Etihad Airways losing passenger traffic over terrorism fears.
A deadly civil war between Yemen’s official government and Houthi rebels has resulted in the deaths of approximately 10,000 people the United Nations estimates. In 2015, Saudi Arabia got involved in the war by carrying out air strikes against the Houthi’s. Since then, the UAE has joined Saudi Arabia in carrying out attacks in support of the government and sending humanitarian supplies to the war-ravaged country.
While there’s much scepticism over the Houthi’s ability to actually carry out this alleged drone attack – especially considering the UAE’s sophisticated radar and anti-missile system – it’s worth pointing out that the Houthi’s are supported and funded by Iran.
The UAE has condemned a Houthi-led attack on two Saudi oil tankers in the Red Sea on Wednesday. The attack caused significant damage and disruption in an all-important shipping lane.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.