Yemen’s Houthi rebels said they fired a ballistic missile at a nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi, targeting a second member of the Arab coalition battling them. The United Arab Emirates said the claim, which was reported by the Houthi-affiliated al-Masirah TV, was untrue.
The conflicting reports come days after former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh broke his coalition with the Houthis and called on the Yemeni people to “defend their republic” against the rebels. That call was supported by Saudi Arabia and its allies, who have been mired in a conflict in Yemen since 2015 against the Iran-backed Houthis. A U.A.E. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, dismissed the claim and jokingly said the government was still waiting for the missile to arrive.
The U.A.E.’s air defense system is capable of dealing with any threats, and the Barakah nuclear power plant has the necessary safety and security measures in place, the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority said in a statement carried by the sate-run WAM news agency.
The Houthis have stepped up their missile attacks in recent weeks, including an attempt to strike Saudi Arabia’s international airport in Riyadh -- foiled by Saudi air defenses -- that upped the stakes in the regional showdown between the oil-rich kingdom and Iran. Sunday’s claim reflects the “desperate political position” the Houthis face both politically and militarily, according to Ghanem Nuseibeh, London-based founder of Cornerstone Global Associates.
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