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UAE ready to take on ‘burden’ of Middle East security

FALAJ2 Class Stealth Patrol Vessel of UAE Navy
UAE Navy ship [file photo]

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is ready to deploy more troops across the Middle East as it cannot rely on Western allies, including the United Kingdom and United States, to police the region, Arab News reported yesterday.

The Emiratis are concerned about the divergence between Western powers over the future relations with Iran. “We are ready to take up more of the burden of security in our own neighbourhood,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said during a speech in London.

“We hope that United States pressure on Iran will bring it back to the negotiating table for an agreement wider than the JCPOA [the nuclear deal known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]: one that addresses Iran’s ballistic missiles and regional meddling,” Gargash said at the Policy Exchange think tank event.

The UAE has extended its influence by deploying troops across the Middle East and Africa where it supports local armed forces and the setup of military bases.

“In this current international system, it is no longer ‘write a cheque and someone is going to come and secure the stability in the region.’ You have to do some of the burden-sharing,” Gargash continued.

The UAE is believed to have been expanding its military influence in Africa and the Middle East. Some 5,000 US troops, fighter jets and drones are being hosted by the UAE. Numerous military drills have been held across the desert near the bases outside Dubai amid doubts about Iran’s increasing role in the region.

In Yemen, the UAE has been part of the Saudi-led coalition to reinstate Yemen’s President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s rule since March 2015, however the Emirates backed the Southern Transitional Council (STC) to counter Hadi’s authority.

The UAE has already deployed reconnaissance forces in Afghanistan and Yemen. Adding to this, it is a primary member of a quartet – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt – levying an air, land and sea blockade against Qatar over allegations that it supports terrorism and extremism. Although Qatar categorically denies the claims as baseless, tensions have risen between the neighbouring Gulf States, without any attempts for reconciliation.

READ: Abu Dhabi airport ‘struck’ by drone, say Houthis

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