*Picture from Khaleej Times

ABU DHABI, 17th January, 2022 (WAM)
Abu Dhabi Police confirmed that a fire broke out this morning, which led to the explosion of three petroleum tankers in ICAD 3, Mussafah, near ADNOC’s storage tanks.
A minor fire also broke out in the new construction area of Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Preliminary investigations suggest that the cause of the fires are small flying objects, possibly belonging to drones, that fell in the two areas. Teams from the competent authorities have been dispatched and the fire is currently being put out.
The competent authorities have launched an extensive investigation into the cause of the fire and the circumstances surrounding it. However, there are no significant damages resulting from the two accidents.

Initial assessment:

First: Points to be taken into consideration:

  1. All Houthi operations in the rear were targeting Saudi Arabia only.
  2. The previous targeting of the UAE was in the Arabian Gulf water or outside it near the ports of Fujairah, and it was against ships and oil tankers.
  3. The UAE is considered an oasis of prosperity, security and stability in the middle of the Gulf region, and next to Saudi Arabia, which does not frequently escape attacks inside its territory.
  4. UAE supports the Giants in Southern Yemen against Houthis.
  5. The new Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian believes in “power” diplomacy, which was announced by Reuters on September 25, 2021.
  6. The incident took place during the negotiations of the nuclear agreement in Geneva, with the frequency of signs of hope to reach an agreement.

Second: My opinion:
It’s too early for an opinion right now, but my initial opinion could be as follows:

There are two possibilities, either that the incident was a unilateral act of the Houthis as a reaction against UAE for supporting the Giants against them in Southern Yemen, or that Iran was behind the Houthis’ push to carry out this operation at this time against the UAE, with the aim of the following:
  1. Transferring indirect military operations from the sea into UAE territory, as is done with Saudi Arabia.
  2. Showing a kind of defect in the UAE’s air defense and security system, which has not been touched from the inside since the outbreak of the war in Yemen.
  3. Attempting to deter the UAE from supporting Israel in any military action against Iran in case a solution is reached in the negotiations of the nuclear agreement, but rather directing it to persuade Israel after being involved in a military action against Iran.
  4. Increasing the UAE’s mistrust of the United States, its main guarantor of security.

Undoubtedly, all of this may appear in the interest of Saudi Arabia, which the UAE considers to have been abandoned in the military operation of the coalition inside Yemen.

Third: Possible scenarios:

  1. The Houthis continue to launch military attacks inside the UAE, as they are carrying out in Saudi Arabia.
  2. The Houthis are satisfied with carrying out this operation temporarily, until the reaction of the UAE appears, in a way that may achieve the objectives of the operation.
  3. The most difficult and dangerous possibilities, in my opinion, are the UAE’s return to the military intervention against the Houthis in Yemen, or at least the implementation of a military strike against the Houthi sites that carried out the operation inside the UAE.

Dr. Sayed Ghoneim
Fellow, Nasser’s Higher Military Academy, PhD in Political Science
Chairman, IGSDA