In a rare rift between two close allies, the usually discreet United Arab Emirates has gone public over its exasperation with the State Department.
Since 9/11, one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East has been the federation of seven sheikdoms known as the United Arab Emirates. Wedged between Iran and Saudi Arabia this wealthy country does $27 billion a year in trade with the United States and has modernized its military with American arms.
This close alliance is now straining after a rare outburst from the UAE. The dispute centers on a single paragraph in the State Department’s annual human rights report about the failed efforts of Islamists to form a political party inside the emirates. The UAE issued a public response Monday asking why the report never acknowledged evidence that the leader of this party was now running a jihadist training camp in Syria.
The UAE almost always conducts its diplomacy behind the scenes and rarely issues any public criticism of the United States. But in recent years the UAE’s rulers have quietly seethed at how President Obama has managed affairs in the Middle East and particularly his support for the toppling of America’s former client in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak.
For the emirates, a small country that quietly funded a mission to train a counter-piracy force in Somalia and has waged a political war against Islamist extremists in the Middle East, a few lines in a voluminous government report was an insult.
“Emirati diplomacy, like that of other conservative Arab Gulf states, is usually done discreetly,” said Simon Henderson, an expert on the Gulf region at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “To issue a news release is extraordinary and suggests a diplomatic rift with Washington which the Obama administration should quickly deal with.”
The last time any Emirati official went on the record with a bad word for the United States was in 2010 after the State Department spokesman compared the UAE to China and Iran for threatening to cut off Blackberry service if the provider did not share the call data of its users with the government.
SOURCE: Eli Lake
The Daily Beast