UAE should look to the long term


United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash tweeted that Turkey must respect the sovereignty of Arab states, according to the BBC. We remember that some time ago Gargash called on Arab countries to build up a front against Turkey. He also likes to emphasize frequently that the UAE is a good ally of the U.S. and his country is supporting wholeheartedly the international community's fight against radical religious currents.

Given Turkey's position alongside Qatar in the crisis that opposed the latter and the UAE, the minister's anti-Turkey declarations are somewhat understandable. However, we must admit there are a number of inconsistencies in his declarations and in his country's policies.

Mr. Gargash apparently studied at King's College, Cambridge and George Washington University, so we can assume he is somebody who knows Britain and the U.S. well. Given his position, he is probably also well informed about London and Washington's current policies. He may even have friends in high places in those countries who can inform him regularly. That's why it is weird that he blames Turkey first for violating the sovereignties of Arab countries. On the contrary, he should have noticed that in history, the U.K. and the U.S. are the ones that harmed the Arab countries' sovereignties the most.

One would expect him to remember that his country was under the U.K.'s rule until 1971, before becoming a federation because the British decided so. Since then, the UAE has acted mostly under the influence of Saudi Arabia rather than as a totally independent country.

In fact, the UAE's relations with Saudi Arabia have always been asymmetrical, and complicated. For example, they disagree completely on Yemen. In brief, the UAE doesn't seem to be a country that really defends the Arab countries' sovereignties. We never heard the UAE defending those sovereignties while the West intervened in Lebanon, Iraq or Libya, for example. We didn't hear them talk much about the U.S.'s recent decision on Jerusalem either.

Maybe the UAE is so angry at Turkey because it supported Qatar recently, but when you think of it, Qatar too, has very good relations with the U.S.

The UAE's problem, it seems, is mostly about the presence of Turkish troops in Syria. We therefore understand that the UAE is opposed to Operation Olive Branch. We don't know if this means they support the People's Protection Units (YPG), because the minister said nothing about it. Maybe he is simply disturbed by the cooperation between Turkey, Russia and Iran. We know that Saudi Arabia is also worried because of this cooperation, given Iran's role in it, but in the meantime, they keep buying weapons from Russia and they don't protest Turkey publicly. Maybe with the UAE, the Saudis have decided to play bad cop, good cop, who knows?

Or maybe the UAE thought it would be isolated if the Saudis and Turkey eventually find common ground to cooperate, so it wanted to alert the Arab world.

However, if they are worried about their country's future, the Emiratis must rather increase the number of their friends, not provoke new antagonisms. Didn't they teach Mr. Gargash all this in the prestigious schools he attended? Small and powerless countries don't have the option of having too many enemies. Besides, they must always be extra vigilant about their friends. Anyway, we all know there is no such thing as the "Arab world," as these countries can never act together because third powers have done everything possible in the past to prevent them from doing so. We also know that citizens of Arab countries think first as citizens of their particular country, rather than as part of the Arab world.

It is not our job to tell the Emirati minister what he has to do, but we can at least remind him that a diplomatic fight with Turkey will not help his country in anyway. The UAE should prioritize long-term friendships over shortsighted interests

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