US sending fighter jets, warship to UAE amid Houthi attacks
The United States is sending fighter jets and a guided missile destroyer to the United Arab Emirates to help the partner nation against recent missile attacks from Yemen’s Houthi rebels, according to the Pentagon.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in a Tuesday call with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said Washington is taking “a range of actions” to support the UAE, press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.
Those include sending the U.S. Navy’s USS Cole guided missile destroyer to partner with the UAE Navy before making a port call in Abu Dhabi.
Austin also “informed the Crown Prince of his decision to deploy 5th Generation Fighter aircraft to assist the UAE against the current threat and as a clear signal that the United States stands with the UAE as a long-standing strategic partner.”
The move comes after the Iran-backed Houthi rebels launched a series of missiles and drones at the UAE, including a failed attack aimed at a base hosting U.S. troops.
In the most recent attack on Monday, the UAE intercepted a missile during a visit by Israel’s president.
And a week prior, the U.S. military fired multiple Patriot missile interceptors at two missiles the Houthis claimed were fired at the al-Dhafra air base, where American forces are based.
“We take our defense relationship very seriously with the Emirates. We recognize the threats that they are under in a very real way,” Kirby told reporters on Wednesday when about the new U.S. weapon commitment to the Gulf nation.
“We want to add to their ability to help defend themselves and to demonstrate clearly and tangibly our commitment to this important partnership and so these are two tangible ways in which we believe we can help the Emirates deal with these very serious threats.”
Kirby added that the U.S. will not rule out “additional steps” to help the UAE.
The attacks are part of the fight between the Yemeni government — backed by a Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE — and the Iran-backed Houthis. The conflict, which began in late 2014, has intensified in recent weeks as the Houthis have tried to take control of the northern part of Yemen.