SANAA, Yemen — The leader of Yemen’s Shiite rebels threatened on Thursday to attack territory in the United Arab Emirates, a key member of a Saudi-led coalition fighting to defeat his Iranian-backed forces and restore an internationally recognized government.
In a speech aired on the rebel-run al-Masirah TV, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said the UAE is now within range of missiles available to his forces after a “successful” missile test showed they could reach the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi.
“All companies (working) in the UAE should no longer see it as safe,” he said.
The rebels, also known as Houthis, had in the past targeted Saudi territory with missiles. Earlier this year, they said their forces had fired a ballistic missile at a military base in western Riyadh, the Saudi capital. Last year, Saudi Arabia said it had “intercepted and destroyed” a Houthi missile 65 kilometers (40.6 miles) from Mecca, home to Islam’s holiest shrine.
The Saudi coalition has since 2015 waged a blistering air campaign against the Houthis and their allies, while enforcing an air and sea blockade of Yemen, where the rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, in 2014, and drove out Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the country’s internationally recognized president.
The war has killed over 10,000 civilians, displaced 3 million people, and pushed the country, the most impoverished in the Arab world, to the brink of famine. Moreover, an outbreak of cholera has killed 2,000 people
In his Thursday address, al-Houthi also hinted at a possible reconciliation with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He said an agreement between their two sides was reached on “political stability.” A power struggle has recently emerged between the two, with Saleh complaining that Houthis sidelined him and his loyalists, leaving them out of military and political decisions.
The rift threatens to undermine their alliance against the coalition.