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Are we seeing a coup against the prevailing wind in relations between the US and UAE?

July 22, 2017 at 12:57 pm

There are conflicting reports about the US intelligence agencies’ investigations of the leaks of emails sent by the UAE ambassador in Washington, Yusuf Al-Otaiba, which include communications from 2014 to May this year. The leaks revealed details of the UAE Embassy’s contacts with public relations companies to limit Qatar’s regional role and the targeting of its political security. The emails also accused Qatar, along with Kuwait, of financing terrorist acts, and included incitement against Turkey, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian Hamas movement.

The latest information was preceded by leaks published by the Washington Post a few days ago confirming Abu Dhabi’s responsibility for the hacking of the Qatar News Agency. This was intended to fabricate a reason for the blockade of Qatar led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, and the placing of impossible demands on the political, military and media establishments in Doha.

The leaks appeared to confirm the personal interests of Donald Trump’s family in the blockade of Qatar. The US President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, apparently failed to obtain a $500 million loan from the wealthy Gulf State. The authorities in Doha decided that there were insufficient justifications for such a loan and declined the application.

Kushner is not only Trump’s close adviser, the husband of his daughter Ivanka and his special envoy to the Middle East, but he is also a close friend of UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed and his ambassador in Washington. We thus have a striking picture of the convergence of personal and state interests as well as secret coordination with the UAE against Qatar; it resembles the plot of a Hollywood movie.

The speed with which the latest details have been disclosed suggests that it is a deliberate move against the prevailing wind in relations between the US and UAE. In Washington, this corresponds with the direction of political pressure on Trump and his team.

In this context, it is possible to understand the current debates in the US Congress about demands to include the UAE under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which was placed on the statute book to allow lawsuits filing for compensation for the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. Saudi Arabia has been the main focus of this, but at least two of the suicide bombers who attacked the World Trade Centre in New York were apparently from the UAE.

Timeline: Arab rift with Qatar

We do not wish either Saudi Arabia or the UAE to fall prey to JASTA or any other law, nor for them to be subject to US financial blackmail, or held responsible for the actions of their citizens who took part in 9/11. This is especially so since America has already avenged the atrocity by its destruction of at least two Muslim countries and changing the course of history in the region.

Furthermore, we would have hoped that neither Abu Dhabi nor Riyadh would be a party to Washington’s hostility against Qatar and incitement against their fellow Gulf State, united as they are by identity and religion. Such circles, in the end, revolve around the tyrants, and what goes around comes around.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.