A dangerous escalation that impacts us all
The Houthi attacks and attempted attacks on the UAE, the latest of which occurred on Monday, have been a dangerous development and represent the new outreach of the militia. In fact, the attacks impact the entire world. The UAE is one of the largest oil exporters in the OPEC member states and Dubai has not only become pivotal to East-West air connectivity but is also the cosmopolitan face of the Gulf region with its busy international port and as a hub of regional commercial activity. It is no wonder that the missile and drone attacks over recent weeks have been condemned around the globe.
The UAE coast has strategic importance as its eastern Emirate of Raas al Khaima sits on the Hormuz Strait. It is therefore important for the international community that the UAE stays peaceful and stable. The attacks have been criticized by the UN Secretary General, US Secretary of State, Indian and Pakistani governments and many others. Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, called it a terrorist attack and expressed full solidarity with the UAE. The UN Secretary General called for maximum restraint to prevent any escalation. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called his UAE counterpart Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed to express concern.
Several statements condemning the attacks have emanated from Pakistan. This is understandable as Pakistan and UAE share common region and are bound by a tradition of co-operation aimed at regional peace and stability. In a telephone conversation with Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said earlier this month, “Such acts are a violation of the principle of state sovereignty and territorial integrity of the United Arab Emirates.” He added that such military strikes must come to an end. Shaikh Abdullah condoled with Qureishi about the death of a Pakistani national killed in this attack.
Pakistan has stakes in Gulf peace and stability. It has been running joint training programmes for the GCC nations’ armed forces and joint military exercises.
Pakistan’s reaction and outrage to the militia’s attacks has been unanimous. The response of the government and opposition parties is equally strong. The Foreign Ministry issued a separate statement saying that Pakistan stood with the brotherly people and government of the UAE in the face of this wanton act of terrorism. Two major opposition parties, the Muslim League and the Peoples’ Party issued statements condemning the act of aggression.
A wide-ranging Pakistani and international response was but natural. Abu Dhabi is the foremost oil producer in the UAE. The ADNOC-managed facilities near Abu Dhabi airport supply oil to all seven component Emirates. These attacks were aimed at crippling the UAE economy and that objective remained elusive. UAE authorities remained composed and calm. Life went on as normal in the entire country. The UAE has requested a special meeting of the UN Security Council meeting to discuss the Houthi attacks.
The peninsula situation and the Gulf divide can at best be described as a stalemate-- and a dangerous one. There may not be winners in this war but the people of Yemen have been the real losers. A humanitarian crisis of colossal proportions is brewing in Yemen. It is about time the UN resumed a leading role in bringing peace to Yemen as it would impact the entire region positively.
Pakistan has stakes in Gulf peace and stability. It has been running joint training programmes for the GCC nations’ armed forces and joint military exercises. Pakistan Navy has commanded the Coalition Task Force 150, based in Bahrain, a record number of times. Pakistan should reinvigorate its efforts with major regional and international players for peace in its vicinity. It should also exert positive pressure on all parties through the OIC.
– Javed Hafeez is a former Pakistani diplomat with much experience of the Middle East. He writes weekly columns in Pakistani and Gulf newspapers and appears regularly on satellite TV channels as a defense and political analyst.