In a recent talk show appearance on RT Arabic, expert in Iranian and Middle East affairs Dr Hakam Amhaz revealed what he thought were the motives behind the UAE’s latest diplomatic moves across the region which have caught many observers by surprise.
In recent weeks, top Emirati political and security officials paid high-profile visits to regional rivals Iran and Syria.
Source: RT Arabic
Date: December 6, 2021
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I’d like to start with my guest Dr. Hakam Amhaz from Iran, I’d like to ask you about the visit, we’ll start with the latest developments, meaning the visit of UAE’s National Security Advisor to Tehran: where will this de-escalation we are witnessing in the region lead, especially in light of statements made by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi who said he is committed to strengthening relations with Iran and its neighboring states?
Dr. Hakam Amhaz, expert in Iranian and regional affairs:
First of all, Hello Mr. Mohammad, and hello to your guest, our brother and good friend Dr. Ahmad and your viewers. Now of course, it must be said that this visit is of great importance, but in terms of results, such things are often linked to implementation. The statements issued during this visit were important, and perhaps we can call them “strategic” statements. First of all the Islamic Republic of Iran reiterated during this visit its previous stances in relation to regional security and cooperation with regional states, that regional security is an indivisible part of Iranian security and vice versa, and that a change for the better must take place in these relations, because a clash in the region is in no one’s interests.
So many statements were issued, and a new page was turned, and so on. This matter, as I see it, reveals that things are changing in the region, and things are not just shifting across the region, but this shift is also linked to changes in the international arena, and here I’m referring specifically to changes affecting the US, such as its waning influence, its withdrawal from the region, its abandonment of its commitments toward its allies, its shift toward its main confrontation with Russia and China, these are all (important) changes.
There is also the matter of a statement, I’m not sure if you’ve followed up on it, issued by the person I refer to as the architect of UAE’s foreign policy, Mr. Anwar Gargash, the foreign affairs advisor of UAE’s ruler, wherein he says that ‘we are no longer sure if the US will support us in the future’, and this in my view is a very significant statement.
This is why I believe that the situation is changing in the region, be that in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, or other (places), especially since a review of foreign policies is taking place (across the region). And here, I’d like to remind you of a statement by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who said that ‘were it not for (Saudi Arabia’s) historic contracts with the US, the US would not have been this strong, but we can, of course, diversify our imports (i.e. trade partners)’.
Mr. Mohammad, there is a key point that we must talk about, which is who took the first step towards opening a new page (in the relations between Iran and the UAE)? In the past period, before the visit (of the UAE security official to Iran), the Iranian Assistant Foreign Minister visited the UAE and the Iranian Foreign Minister called his Emirati counterpart. There were also invitations made and confirmation of good relations and good neighborly ties (between the two countries).
Dr. Hakam, yes, there were preliminary steps, but let’s get into the main subject.
Just one last point. Mr. Raisi was invited to visit the UAE, and this is a very important checkpoint for the relationship between the two states.
Yes, this leads us to a question which is related to the title of the episode: “The Two Poles of the Gulf: Saudi Arabia and Iran”. Even (between Iran and) Saudi Arabia there were preliminary actions, i.e. four rounds of dialogue, mediated by Iraq. So why don’t we also see any (positive) outcomes with regards to (the relations between Iran) and the Saudi Kingdom? Actions in the region bring results and lead to agreements. Whether it’s Iran or Turkey. Dialogue forges new alliances in the region. Why have we not yet seen the fruits of the preliminary steps (between Iran and) Saudi Arabia?
Mr. Mohammad, when I spoke about the issue of reviewing foreign relations in the region, that included the relations between regional states as well. It is no longer a secret. There is a big economic feud between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. There are real Emirati fears that the (Saudi economic plan called) Vision 2030 aims to abolish the economic role of the UAE. Thus causing the Emirates to lose its (economic) power to Saudi Arabia. One of the Saudi regulations (issued in Vision 2030) prohibits companies from establishing regional centers in a country other than Saudi Arabia, otherwise they will lose their right to make any investments in Saudi Arabia.
There is also a disagreement between the two states in Yemen. I mean, we know that there are problems – I do not want to go into details- but it has become clear that if the battle in Ma’rib ends with the victory of the Yemeni army, Saudi Arabia’s allies in Yemen, meaning Abd Rabbu bin Mansour Hadi, will not have any remaining stronghold because the south is controlled by the Emirates and its militias. Therefore, there are several factors that drive both the Saudis and Emiratis to search for allies. This is why we see that the UAE went to Turkey, Syria and Iran and concluded agreements with the Israelis, while Saudi Arabia is simultaneously trying to follow the same steps. Therefore, this matter is clear. It is no secret to anyone.