A spokesperson for the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen has threatened to launch missiles targeting the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In comments carried by Saba news agency, Brigadier General Sharaf Ghaleb Loqman said on Friday that “Abu Dhabi is no longer safe after today”.
Loqman also warned investors in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to take his remarks seriously.
The statement comes amid reported advances by UAE-backed forces on the crucial port city of Hodeidah in western Yemen.
The Houthi movement would effectively be under a land, sea and air blockade if they lose control of the Hodeidah, the country’s third-largest city.
Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has been wracked for more than three years by a bloody war between the Houthi rebels and supporters of its internationally recognised government.
In September 2014, the Houthis took control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and proceeded to push southwards towards the country’s second-biggest city, Aden. In response to the Houthis’ advances, a coalition of Arab states, including the UAE, launched a military campaign in 2015 to defeat the Houthis and restore Yemen’s government.
In December last year, the UAE denied a report that Houthi rebels fired a cruise missile towards its airspace.
Describing coalition reports of advances on the Houthi stronghold of Saada as false, Loqman said the army and People’s Committees recovered all lost sites and were working to recover the districts of Hayes and al-Khokha.
The Saudi-led coalition announced in May the start of a large-scale military operation in Yemen’s west coast aimed at seizing control of the strategic port city.
“Hodeidah is 20km away and operations are continuing,” spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said at a press briefing in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, last week but stopped short of announcing whether there would be an assault on the city.
The fighting in Hodeidah – the main gateway for imports of relief supplies and commercial goods – escalated earlier this year following a flurry of missile attacks against Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh sees Hodeidah port as the entry point of weaponry for the Houthis and has accused its regional rival Iran of sending missiles to the rebels, a charge Tehran has denied.
The United Nations considers Yemen to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.