Is the US-United Arab Emirates alliance salvageable?

Is the US-United Arab Emirates alliance salvageable?

Is the US-United Arab Emirates alliance salvageable? The United Arab Emirates assumes it can maintain very close relations with the U.S. while simultaneously supporting America’s two most preeminent adversaries: China and Russia.

Recognizing failures of policy in relation to Emirati concerns, the U.S. should make clear that the UAE must decide whether to prioritize its relations with Washington or its relations with Beijing and Moscow.

As the Wall Street Journal reported this week, President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s government continues to facilitate significant trade with Russia. This centers on goods that Moscow needs to support its war in Ukraine. This is part of a trend. In June, bin Zayed met with Vladimir Putin at a major economic conference in St. Petersburg. That meeting showed the UAE’s disinterest in supporting efforts to impose economic costs on Russia over the war in Ukraine. But in the context of the UAE’s legitimate, oft-stated public concerns over Iranian imperialism in the Middle East, bin Zayed’s continued deference to Putin’s imperialism is deeply hypocritical.


Then there’s the UAE’s pursuit of a strategic partnership with China. Engaging closely with China’s feudal Belt and Road Initiative, the UAE provides significant access to the People’s Liberation Army and associated Chinese intelligence efforts. This threatens U.S. military operations in the Persian Gulf and beyond. U.S. concerns over the engagement of Middle Eastern allies with China are not limited to the UAE (they include Saudi Arabia and, in particular, Israel). Yet along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE is now set to join the Beijing-dominated BRICS partnership. That matters because Xi Jinping views this partnership as a key means of weakening the U.S. and gaining diplomatic-economic cover for China’s imperialist claims in the East and South China Seas. So keen is the Islamic-governed UAE to earn Beijing’s favor that it has even endorsed China’s Uyghur Muslim genocide.


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