UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, expressed his country’s objection to the creation of a buffer zone in Syria, while he refused to express his opinion on the US withdrawal from Syria.
Gargash said in an interview with the American channel Alhurra that his country refuses that Turkey establishes a buffer zone in Syria and allowing a non-Arab presence in any Arab country, pointing out that the UAE “supports protecting the Kurds in Syria from the consequences of the American withdrawal.”The UAE minister avoided taking a clear position on the issue of the US withdrawal from Syria, whether by rejection or support.
Regarding the re-opening of an embassy in Damascus, Gargash said that “the reopening of the UAE embassy in Syria took place after consultations with some allies in order to influence the course of events there.”
He added that the issue of restoring the relationship with Syria was discussed over a full year in the UAE, for two reasons. The first is that the collective attitude taken in 2011 does not match what is currently on the ground.
The second reason is that “the Arab role was on the sidelines in the Syrian file, which is managed from regional countries. Thus, it is necessary to repair this rift, which necessitates an Arab position, and the situation is the same in Iraq.”
He stressed that “his country is committed to the international community decided not to contribute to reconstruction in Syria before achieving a political settlement,” and declared “his country’s rejection of the Iranian presence in Syria.”
With regard to the Deal of the Century, Gargash said that his country has not yet seen the Deal of the Century of the US administration, linking the normalisation of Arab-Israeli relations with a breakthrough in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
With respect to the Gulf crisis, the UAE minister said that Qatar does not make a self-assessment of the damage it has caused to the four countries (Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain), linking the dispute to “the personality of former Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa.”
As for the United States of America’s attempt to form an “Arab NATO” to confront Iran in the region, Gargash clarified that “the issue is still an idea.”
He emphasized the commitment of his country to economic sanctions on Iran and the existence of real pressure and an Iranian economy which is in dire straits. Gargash considered that the Iranian Foreign Minister’s statement that the UAE changed its economic policy with Iran comes from this point.
The UAE minister pointed out that the economic situation has become fragile and worse than it was three years ago, and therefore the pressure of sanctions began to affect the Iranian currency.
He called for “a review of the missile file, intervention in the region, as well as the nuclear file.” He stressed the importance of the Warsaw meeting on discussing Iran’s presence in the region and claimed that the UAE will be present.
With regard to the issue of the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Gargash said it was a terrible crime, but we must rely on the Saudi measures, and we are concerned about the politicisation of the case.
He pointed to the existence of a “cold war” in the region run by regional countries, and insisted that Turkey is taking advantage of the case of Khashoggi’s killing, and this was not a “wise” move.
He commented on the protests in Sudan saying that what happened was that “there is a living crisis after raising the price of bread, and we hope that a solution to this issue will be reached.”