Yemen’s January 17 drone retaliation against UAE aggression which started in 2015 is a massive blow to the US-imposed security and political architecture in the region.
Yemen successfully drones targeted the UAE oil facility, ADNOC.
It is a clear manifestation of the fact that US political and military security umbrella provided to the region’s autocratic regimes is not effective.
The UAE is no ordinary Western vassal; it is NATO’s incentive tool for the region.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai are often presented as models of how submission and surrender of sovereignty to Western regimes can benefit the region.
During the US aggression on Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s, Singapore and Hong Kong played a similar soft-power role.
One of UAE’s selling points of its allegiance to Washington is the veneer of stability and security the Emirati autocrats often project.
Since UAE’s destructive role in Syria, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, Abu Dhabi has implied that US patronage allows it to punch way above its weight and get away with it.
While this was a flimsy claim, at a superficial level it seemed plausible.
However, the January 17 drone retaliation obliterated this narrative.
Having spent billions of dollars to keep Western arms companies in business, the UAE is still unable to defend itself against Yemen.
The Yemeni revolutionaries have no doubt demonstrated impeccable military and political skills in holding out against a coalition of several powerful states, but its military industry from a purely materialistic angle is not very advanced.
Thus, there are broader implications which will follow from the drone strikes of January 17.
First, if the UAE allows Israel or the US to use its territory against Islamic Iran, it will be crossing Tehran’s strategic redline.
This will essentially turn the UAE into a sitting duck for Iran’s sophisticated military.
If Abu Dhabi is unable to prevent Yemen from reaching the depth of its territory, it simply stands no chance against Iran.
Second, it will become harder to justify spending billions of dollars on Western weapons which are now proven to be useless in the region’s military theater.
Third, Yemenis are likely to continue targeting the UAE for its atrocities and meddling in Yemen.
This will spook many foreign investors who operate from Dubai and will negatively impact the UAE economy.
Essentially, the UAE’s autocratic regime is caught between a rock and a hard place.
If it chooses to respond in a minimalist manner, its already eroded credibility will further decline. If it responds harshly, the Yemenis will retaliate even harder.
In-depth analysis of the region always hinted at the reality that Yemen will play a crucial role in reconfiguring the region’s geopolitical landscape.
It might just happen way faster than many had anticipated.