Why the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Is Uniquely Stable among the Arab States

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Dore Gold - Among the Arab Gulf states, the UAE shows signs of greater stability than any of its neighbors. It does not have a problem of religious extremism. It has a clear succession for the presidency. It has resolved most of its border problems with its neighbors. Abu Dhabi is the largest of the emirates, accounting for 88% of the entire area. It dominates the federal government and its relative size and wealth make it extremely difficult for the lesser emirates to break off. Some 25% of the UAE population are Shiites. But concern there has focused on families of Iranian origin who are represented in large numbers in Dubai (as many as 400,000). The U.S. and UAE signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement in 1994, after which the U.S. military presence in the UAE greatly expanded. Roughly 5,000 U.S. servicemen are deployed there. The Al Dhafra air base near Abu Dhabi has proven critical for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as combat operations against ISIS. The U.S. also uses naval facilities at the Jebel Ali port and Fujairah. The large American military contingent acts as a tripwire: an armed attack by Iran on Abu Dhabi that led to U.S. fatalities would likely bring about a massive American retaliation. Above all, American power in the Gulf region is the single most important factor in guaranteeing the stability of the UAE in the future. The UAE has taken measures to reduce its vulnerability to internal Islamist challenges. Moreover, public opinion is strongly against the emergence of any form of a theocratic state, which helped put the brakes on support for radical Islamic organizations. UAE courts closed down all branches of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2014. The writer, former Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli Ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center.

2020-09-24 00:00:00

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