Apr 13, 2022 - World

Scoop: Blinken apologized to UAE crown prince for delayed response to Houthi attacks

Blinken meets with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed at his residence in Rabat, Morocco. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken apologized to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed last month for the U.S. response to January's Houthi attacks against the United Arab Emirates, two sources briefed on the issue tell Axios.

Why it matters: The Emiratis were disappointed by what they saw as a weak and slow U.S. response to the attacks, while the Biden administration was subsequently disappointed by the Emirati response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Blinken’s apology helped to ease those tensions.

  • According to the two sources, Blinken admitted during his meeting with MBZ in Morocco that the Biden administration took too long to respond to the attacks and said he was sorry.

What they're saying: A senior State Department official declined to speak about Blinken’s private conversation, but didn’t deny this account.

  • “The Secretary made clear that we deeply value our partnership with the UAE and that we will continue to stand by our partners in the face of common threats," the senior State Department official said.
  • Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to Washington, told Axios last month that the Blinken-MBZ meeting helped “move the relationship between the UAE and the U.S. back on the right track."

Flashback: When CENTCOM commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie visited Abu Dhabi in February, MBZ refused to meet with him because it had taken him 22 days to make the trip.

  • The Emiratis were also disappointed that the Biden administration declined their request to re-designate the Houthis as a terror organization.
  • The Emirati frustration led the UAE to abstain from a UN Security Council vote on condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's visit to the UAE earlier this month blindsided the White House and further increased tensions with the U.S.
Go deeper