Tehran’s read-out of Wednesday’s phone conversation between its Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and his UAE counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, is only the latest indication of the Islamic Republic’s intent on dangerous escalation in the region, analysts said.
According to the Iranian state news agency IRNA Amirabdollahian stressed during the conversation that “the Zionist regime’s presence is a threat to the regional security”, in a reference to the normalisation of ties between Israel and some Gulf countries including the UAE.
The same day a little-known extremist group claimed a drone attack on the United Arab Emirates, raising the possibility that Iran has decided to mobilise its proxy militias from other countries in the region beyond Yemen.
Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq (True Promise Brigades), which is believed to be simply a cover name used by pro-Iranian factions operating in Iraq, said it launched four drones at dawn on Wednesday targeting the Gulf state.
The UAE announced the interception and destruction on Wednesday of three “hostile drones”, which follows three previous drone and missile attacks claimed by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels since January 17.
The Houthis military spokesman Yahya Saree “congratulated” Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq on the operation.
“We thank them for this honourable, responsible stance of solidarity with our dear people against the Emirati enemy,” Saree said.
In claiming responsibility for the drone attack, Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq vowed: “to continue to deliver painful strikes until the UAE stops interfering in the affairs of the countries of the region, primarily Yemen and Iraq”.
“The coming strikes will be more severe and painful,” their statement threatened.
Experts saw Tehran’s fingerprints in the attack. “If Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq came out of hibernation and did launch drones at the UAE … then this was likely an Iran-directed or at very least Iran-tolerated operation,” Michael Knights at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy said in a Twitter post.
Gulf affairs experts said that Iran is actually demonstrating that its expressions of readiness for dialogue with Gulf countries and regional economic cooperation are mere diversionary tactics to relieve pressure on Tehran while it pursues its previous hostile agenda towards its Arab Gulf neighbours.
They believe that Tehran, by directing its proxy militias to target the UAE, is planning to expand the area of confrontation and open a northern front in the showdown, after Abu Dhabi succeeded in thwarting the Houthi attacks and blunting Iran’s attempts to unsettle UAE security and damage its image as a regional and international economic hub.
They add that Iran may be preparing for its worst-case scenario, where the Houthis suffer severe new setbacks at the hands of forces allied to the UAE, after previous defeats in Shabwa and Marib. However, in doing so, Tehran runs the risk of facing added pressure as it uses Iraq as a front to serve its regional designs.
The announcement of the attacks by the “True Promise Brigades” provoked the wrath of the leader of the Sadrist movement, Moqtada al-Sadr, the soon-to-be de facto ruler of Iraq. He denounced the attacks not only as they targeted a neighbouring Arab state but also because they undermined his own image as a leader who can control the security situation in his country.
According to experts, Sadr’s strong reaction was directed obliquely at top leaders in the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) who have lost the elections and now want to influence the political situation at home through domestic and regional violence.
In a statement on Thursday Sadr was keen to lift the political cover from the attackers, as well as to reassure the Gulf states that Iraq will not be part of any agenda that threatens their security.
Sadr said that “some outlaw terrorists have rushed to drag Iraq into a dangerous regional war by targeting a Gulf country, under the pretext of normalisation or that of the Yemen war.”
He stressed that “Iraq needs peace, state authority and non-subordination to foreign orders in being a launch pad for attacks on neighbouring states and regional countries. The Iraqi government must deal with the perpetrators seriously and firmly.”
The UAE defence ministry said it was “ready to deal with any threats” and was taking “all necessary measures” to protect the country which prizes its reputation as a safe business haven.
On Tuesday, the United States said it was deploying fighter jets to assist the UAE after the attacks on Abu Dhabi
Observers believe that the repeated attacks on Gulf countries and targeting the interests of the United States and its allies in the region will push the United States and Israel to take off their gloves in dealing with Iran’s new attempts at undermining the region’s peace and security.
Source » thearabweekly