If oil exports are taken out of the equation, the United Arab Emirates are Iran’s largest trading partner. And despite the strategic tensions between the two nations, diplomatic channels have remained open. Yet recent drone and missile attacks on the UAE by Tehran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen make clear that diplomacy is unlikely to bear much fruit. Hussain Abdul-Hussain and David May explain how these circumstances will strengthen the Abraham Accords:
Houthi attacks on the United Arab Emirates proved what many have known for a long time, that Arab solidarity is an imaginary concept. In Beirut, Hizballah cheered on the strikes. In Gaza, the Hamas politburo member Mahmoud al-Zahar said the attacks were as blessed as “liberating Palestine from the Israeli occupation.” And in Baghdad, the pro-Iran group Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq gave the Houthis a hand by launching explosive drones at Abu Dhabi.
When it came to the attacks on the UAE, the strongest regional displays of support came from Israel. Israeli gestures of solidarity helped solidify Emirati-Israeli ties, which have been growing since the declaration of peace between them in the Abraham Accords of 2020.
Despite security warnings, [Israel’s President Isaac] Herzog traveled to the UAE in late January, becoming the first Israeli president to visit the country. Israeli defense officials reportedly visited the UAE to discuss defense and intelligence assistance in the wake of the Houthi attacks. And Israel’s Channel 13 reported that Israel is planning to advance the sale of missile-defense systems, possibly including Israel’s famed Iron Dome, to the UAE. For his part, Prime Minister Bennett “ordered the Israeli security establishment to provide their counterparts in the UAE with any assistance” to prevent future attacks.
The bonds enhanced during this crisis may lead to mutual recognition in the UAE and Israel that the two countries do not just face shared threats but may have a shared destiny.