In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Yasser Qazvini Haeri, touched on the policies pursued by the UAE, especially in the last decade on the developments in the international arena and noted: It should not be forgotten that the UAE consists of seven emirates whose survival from the very beginning was in question. At the same time, many were skeptical that the UAE would remain because of the many problems that existed between the Emirates.
Quest for Survival UAE’s Long-Lasting Concern
Stating that the UAE’s identity seems to be based on a kind of concern, he added: “The country always feels threatened from outside, and therefore the philosophy of part of its policies has been based on trying to survive. Sheikh Zayed had also said in a recent speech that by organizing themselves they should be able to survive! These survival strategies have placed them in behavior contexts intertwined with concern, and when the UAE became rich and accumulated great oil wealth, it showed itself in a different way.
Competition with Qatar; Cause of Some UAE Policies
The international affairs analyst said: “In analyzing the UAE policies, we should not neglect the competition it has with some countries, Qatar in particular. The two countries are small and wealthy and have similar issues and problems, but in terms of policies they are thoroughly pitched against each other; therefore, the UAE does not want to lose the opportunity to Qatar.
Qazvini Haeri explained: The UAE was against political Islam from the very beginning and was the first country to consider the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and party. The UAE is concerned about Qatar’s growing influence and needs to spend as much as Qatar to gain influence to cut off their presence from the regions they maintain presence.
Addressing the policies the UAE adopted towards the so-called Arab Spring uprisings in some Arab countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, he said: “The UAE was one side of the coup d’états occurred against the Arab revolutions and in this policy the UAE should not be considered regardless of its competition with Qatar in the Persian Gulf.
Duality in UAE Foreign Policy
Referring to some dichotomies in the UAE foreign policy, including supporting terrorists in Syria and then retreating from this policy, as well as a temporary effort to get closer to Iran, the Tehran University faculty member added: “The UAE pursues policies that are much larger than its geographical boundaries and wants to play a bigger role than its capacity and geography.
It wants to connect itself to different axes at the same time and be present on fronts that are sometimes conflicting in order to legitimize its existence and status and to be associated with bigger issues; That is, to define itself in a way that it can conclude a deal with both China and the United States and India.
Emirates; Contradiction between Wealth, Geography
He analyzed some of UAE’s efforts to address the consequences of its small geographical location, saying: the country has a fragile geography; This concern and contradiction between wealth and geography explains part of its adventurous behavior; For example, looking at UAE’s policies to get access to fresh water, it can be seen how much of a challenge this issue is for the UAE, the water without which the UAE would go back to the 19th century.
The Tehran University Faculty member pointed to the cooperation of the UAE with the Arab coalition in the Yemeni war and the clash of militias under its auspices with the Saudi military in southern Yemen, and said that the UAE uses Saudi Arabia as a tool to counter Islamism. When the Reform Party and the Muslim Brotherhood came to power in Yemen, the UAE came to the fore so that this party could not carry out its work. The type of UAE operation in South Yemen also revolves around these axes.
Qazvini described the policies of the UAE from some aspects to be similar to those of 19th century Britain, explaining that the country was trying to be a power among the small powers by splitting them and creating division. It wants no country to be more powerful than itself, and therefore uses everything as a pretext to execute this policy.
Political Islam, UAE’s Red Line, Top Concern
Emphasizing that the emergence of political Islam is the red line and the peak of UAE’s concern, he added: “They have stood firm so that any kind of political Islam, especially Sunni political Islam, does not rise. It uses Saudi Arabia to advance this same policy. Riyadh considers the Muslim Brotherhood a threat, but it does not have as much of a priority as the UAE to confront them. Saudi Arabia also has ties with the Reform Party in Yemen.
Describing UAE’s efforts to dominate ports and be present in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea waters with the aim of maintaining its power and advancing its geostrategic goals, he said: The UAE, like Saudi Arabia, is looking for bases in the Red Sea in fear of the policies pursued by China on some islands, as well as the “One Road One Belt” debate, in order to prevent its collapse.
He went on to say that the UAE’s overt and covert efforts to normalize relations with the Zionist regime are in line with its hostility to political Islam, and said: Because in this duality, in any case, there are Islamic movements that play the leading role and the UAE does not accept this issue. At the same time, from their point of view, the Arab world has come to the conclusion that it should communicate with Israel, and they think that it would be better for them to communicate first! With the media and soft power at their disposal, they hope to engage with public opinion.
According to Qazvini, the leaders of the UAE, like some analysts, are coming to an end with the approach that the era of nation-states that are fully centralized and have definite borders according to the traditional definition, so they are looking for transnational and trans-regional maps. The history of the region considers the issue of influence and participation in various treaties to be vital.