DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A false claim by the Yemen Houthi rebels of an attack on the world's busiest airport for international flights this week may have been quickly disproved by the authorities in Dubai. That does not mean that it can be taken too lightly.
The insistence of the Houthis and stubborn media in Iran on the trumpeting of untruth serves as a warning to the city-state and other parts of the UAE, now engaged in the year-long Yemen war under the leadership of Saudi Arabia.
And while a previous Iranian media threat sparked an immediate government reaction from the censors, it passed without censorship. This means that the US sanctions triggered by the withdrawal of President Donald Trump from the Iranian nuclear program will increase as will the threats against the US-allied UAE.
The recent war of words began on Monday afternoon. The Houthi-controlled satellite news channel Al-Masirah and others began claiming to offer without evidence that they had attacked Dubai International Airport, a massive transit hub in the Sheikdom that reached 88.2 million passengers last year alone.
Any attack on the airport Because the airport serves as the hub of the long-haul carrier Emirates, which connects the east and west of the Arabian Peninsula.
But the Houthi allegation claims that the Shiite rebels used a Samad-3 drone to bomb an airport about 1
Although this claim was quickly disproved, the claim in Iran immediately gained ground at The Conflict. While Iran directly dispute rebel armament, the United Nations and the Western powers have documented arms shipments to the Houthis of Tehran, from Kalashnikov assault rifles to ballistic missile technology that routinely tracks cities as far as the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
The Iranian semi-official Fars News Agency, which for a long time was close to the country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, announced on Monday the would-be attack, showing that "Dubai is no longer safe" home to Western intelligence
"Dubai and Other Emirati cities can expect Yemeni drones to fly over them – and even Western intelligence centers are under their wings, "the Fars analysis said.
Such threats against Dubai itself are rare. While the UAE government in Abu Dhabi remains very suspicious of Iran and has worked in recent years to expand the military to meet the threat, Dubai and other northern emirates have historic ties to the seven sheikdoms Iran. Many ethnic Persians live in the UAE. Dubai's high rise dwellings and banks also serve as an important financial haven for the Iranian average and government and paramilitary hunters to launder money.
Earlier threats against Dubai have triggered an immediate government response. For example, Keynhan of Tehran in November 2017 claimed that Dubai was the "next destination" for the Houthis after launching a ballistic missile in Riyadh. Authorities pushed for a two-day ban on publishing for the daily newspaper.
However, officials have not made any reported actions against Fars. President Hassan Rouhani, who negotiated the nuclear treaty with the world powers in 2015, has taken a harder line following Trump's withdrawal from the agreement itself. Rouhani has recently revived a longstanding Iranian threat on a trip to Europe to cut off the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, through which a third of the oil traded by sea passes.
Hard-line support will only rise in the coming months. On November 4, the US will introduce sanctions on Iran's crude oil exports, which are a necessary source of hard currency for a country whose economy is already gasping for air. While the nuclear agreement continues today, Iran may decide to give it up and begin a rapid expansion of its uranium enrichment.
Iran also relied on its deputies in the region, the Houthis. While the rebels mistakenly claim an attack on Dubai airport, they can target merchant ships and oil tankers passing through Yemen in the Red Sea. His forces could launch rockets and other attacks. Either that would drive up global oil prices, especially as Iranian supply is cut off from the market.
The United Arab Emirates, like other Gulf Arab monarchies, hosts thousands of US troops and relies on American military to counter Iran. This relationship helps limit possible reprisals, as does the arsenal of American-made weapons.
That being said, even a falsely claimed attack like this week could pose a real threat.
EDITOR'S NOTE – Gambrell, Acting Gulf News Director of The Associated Press, has been reporting from each of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and other places around the world since joining AP in 2006. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap. His work can be found at http://apne.ws/galNpz.
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