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Saudi Crown Prince MBS threatened to impose blockade on UAE 'worse than' that on Qatar

July 19, 2023 at 8:59 pm

Mohammed Bin Salman, Prime Minister and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia [Royal Court of Saudi Arabia/Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, privately threatened to journalists that he would impose sanctions on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has revealed.

According to the paper, bin Salman told journalists in an off-the-record briefing in December that he had sent the UAE a list of demands and warned the neighbouring country that he would impose measures on it if it continued to rival major Saudi policy positions within the region and in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+).

“It will be worse than what I did with Qatar,” the Crown Prince is reported to have said, referring to the 2017 embargo on Qatar that Riyadh led, along with other Gulf states such as the UAE and Bahrain, and which was only lifted in 2021.

Bin Salman reportedly told the Saudi journalists that the UAE had “stabbed us in the back”, warning that Abu Dhabi “will see what I can do.”

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The Saudi Crown Prince and the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed have long been reported to rival one another in regards to foreign policy objectives within the region, notably in Yemen, where both had taken military action against the Houthi rebels but, at the same time, vied for leadership over the other.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have also had their differences in OPEC+, in which both are members but Saudi Arabia takes the leading role in. Back in October last year, the UAE had accused its neighbour of forcing it to agree to an oil production cut at a major OPEC meeting, leading to the Emiratis threatening to withdraw from the organisation.

Despite the threats from both sides, the two countries and allies have managed to prevent their dispute from escalating and have largely kept it from leaking out into the press or diplomatic circles.

According to the WSJ, however, citing its anonymous sources, the tensions have continued to such an extent that bin Salman and bin Zayed have not spoken for over six months.

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