Emirates Leaks

MEE: UAE caused disasters in the Middle East undermining its stability


Middle East Eye published an article by former BBC journalist Bill Law, covering the Middle East affairs. Law was one of the first to the first to cover the resistance in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, saying that the UAE’s military interventions have led to disaster – not stability.

In his article, he pointed to 2014 where James Matisse, as commander of the Central Command in the Middle East and before becoming Trump’s defense minister, praised the seven-nation federation in the Gulf, meaning the United Arab Emirates.

The writer said that Mattis, quoted at the time in a Washington Post article, said that the UAE is “not just willing to fight – they’re great warriors”. He added that within the US military, “there’s a mutual respect, an admiration, for what they’ve done – and what they can do”.

Mattis described the UAE, a country with a population of only 1 million among 9 million migrant workers, described it as ” Little Sparta.”

The writer added, “”Little Sparta” had, since the early noughties, shown its mettle flying missions with the Americans against the Taliban. They earned further respect by dispatching 1,200 soldiers to Afghanistan, staying until 2014. As the chaos of the Arab Spring of 2011 descended into war in Syria and Libya, the UAE’s de facto ruler and crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, enthusiastically threw his air force into action in Libya, while delivering arms to rebels on the ground in Syria. (Much of the high-tech weaponry was purchased from the US.) Then, together with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, he launched the Yemen campaign in March 2015.”

“Though the Emiratis had early successes in southern Yemen, driving rebel Houthis forces away from the key port of Aden and liberating another port city, Mukalla, from the grip of al-Qaeda, the war has dragged on for more than four years, with awful consequences for the people of the Arab world’s poorest country.” Law said.

“The Emiratis joined forces with a secessionist movement, the Southern Transitional Council – South Yemen was a separate country until 1990 – and have trained and armed a variety of militias. But neither they nor the Saudis have been able to wrest control of the vital Red Sea port of Hodeidah from the Houthis.”

The writer notes that a fragile truce, negotiated in December by UN special envoy Martin Griffiths, barely holds, and the situation on the ground is at a standoff, as it is in another key city, Taiz.

“The situation in Yemen can best be described as a stalemate. Neither the Emiratis nor the Saudis appear to have an exit strategy for a war that was launched with little or no thought of the consequences, and under the mistaken assumption that the Houthis would crumble quickly.”

“After four years of war, the number of victims has increased to 50,000, millions are suffering from fear and hunger, tens of thousands of children are at risk of dying from diseases that can be prevented if medicines are available, infrastructure is in ruins, While it became clear that it was a failed military adventure.” The writer adds.

“More than four years on, civilian deaths are estimated to have topped 50,000, millions are facing food insecurity and starvation, tens of thousands of children are at risk of death from preventable diseases, and much of the country’s infrastructure has been bombed to rubble. The UAE has much to answer for in what is, it is becoming increasingly clear, a failed military adventure.”

“Again, the assumption was that a quick and easy win was on the cards – that Sarraj’s forces would be caught off guard. But more than a month in, that has not been the case. As in Yemen, the battle has stalemated.”

The writer also said that “Haftar has the military backing of the UAE, the financial backing of the Saudis and the political support of Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi – but the longer the stalemate continues, the weaker his position becomes.”

The writer points out that when asked the Libyan political analyst Tariq al-Maghreisi about the efficiencies of the haftar, he replied: “[Haftar] is incompetent at best, as he has been for most of his career. He took a few neighbourhoods by surprise.” Al-Maghreisi believes that the number of victims on the side of Tripoli, which was estimated at 400, may have been higher, describing the fighting as “bloody,” using a Grad rocket launcher and aircraft loaded with bombs to intimidate civilians. He said Trump’s support of US citizenship was important and blocked any diplomatic solution.

“Trump was apparently persuaded by Sisi during his recent visit to Washington to throw his weight behind Haftar. The result was a phone call to the warlord from the president, going against the advice of both the State Department and the Pentagon. Sarraj, who is touring European capitals to shore up international support, met with Macron in Paris on 8 May and urged France “to have a clear political position on the situation in Libya”. He noted: “We were getting close to an agreement and possibly a solution with international backing” when Haftar launched his attack.”

“Libya is another arena of war and another stalemate for the Emirates. More innocent civilians are being wounded and killed as MBZ pursues his goal to position the UAE as a major force in the Middle East. Where, one wonders, will he go next?” The writer says.

“The UAE, together with the Saudis, is attempting to shore up the military leaders heading a transitional council. Already, the two have pledged billions to the country, and the Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, tweeted: “Totally legitimate for Arab states to support an orderly & stable transition in Sudan. One that carefully calibrates popular aspirations with institutional stability.” But the demonstrators don’t trust the military. So what happens if they threaten what Gargash calls “institutional stability?” Will MBZ be inclined to reach for the guns yet again? Or is it the case that Little Sparta has learned a lesson from the stalemates in Libya and Yemen? If so, it has come at a huge cost to the people of both countries.”

The writer concludes his article with: “It is to be hoped that such a fate is not about to be inflicted on the people of Sudan.”