image Photo: Reuters

US F-22s arrive in UAE

The fighter jets were deployed as part of a multifaceted demonstration of support from the United States after a series of unprecedented attacks last month threatened American and Emirati armed forces stationed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

By Erin Viner

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the rapid deployment of the fifth-generation aircraft in coordination with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE, said a statement issued by the United States Air Forces Central.

The US Air Force (USAF) said the flight crew and the F-22s belong to the 1st Fighter Wing, located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. They will join a range of joint, coalition and allied and partner combat air power capabilities already based across the region.

In recent weeks, the Iran-backed Islamist Houthi rebels in Yemen have waged a spate of largely failed strikes on UAE targets that triggered Emirati and US air defenses, even forcing American troops to take shelter at the host installation.

The US General overseeing Middle East operations confirmed last week that Washington will help Abu Dhabi replenish its supply of interceptors to down incoming missiles.

The Houthi strikes have accentuated failure by the international community headed by the United Nations to mediate an end to the war in Yemen, which has been waged by the Islamist insurgents since 2015 against a Saudi Arabian-led military coalition that includes the UAE.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, which has caused a major humanitarian crisis.

Israel has also offered to help the UAE counter attacks  by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi insurgents.

“We stand ready to offer you security and intelligence support in order to help you protect your citizens from similar attacks,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wrote in an official letter sent to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, in which also he relayed Jerusalem’s deep condolences for deadly terrorist strikes that killed 3 and wounded 6 others in January.

“I have ordered the Israeli security establishment to provide their counterparts in the UAE with any assistance, should you be interested,” added Prime Minister Bennett. “Israel is committed to working closely with you in the ongoing battle against extremist forces in the region, and we will continue to partner with you to defeat our common enemies,” he added.

Bennett and Sheikh Mohammed held talks in Abu Dhabi in December last year, the first ever public meeting between leaders of their nations.

Israel and the UAE normalized relations in the US-brokered Abraham Accords in 2020.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog paid a condolence call to the Crown Prince to condemn the attacks, during which he expressed full backing to the UAE and its right to act in self defense.

The Iran-alligned Houthi Movement has frequently launched cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia – but have claimed few such attacks on the United Arab Emirates (UAE).