The UAE, together with its ally Saudi Arabia, played a highly visible role in helping make peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia. As its footprint across the Horn of Africa grows, the UAE should avoid having intra-Gulf competition colour its engagement.
Originally published in The New York Times
As tensions continued to rise between U.S. and Iran and their respective allies, United Arab Emirates (UAE) took steps to avoid inflaming situation. While U.S. and Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for 13 June attacks on tankers in Gulf of Oman, UAE refrained from attributing blame, pending ongoing investigation. Quad comprising Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK and U.S. 22 June expressed concerns over “escalating tensions in the region and the dangers posed by Iranian destabilising activity to peace and security both in Yemen and the broader region” (see Iran). In Yemen, UAE has drawn down some of its forces along Red Sea coast, and removed some military equipment from Hodeida. After Sudanese security forces 3 June attacked protesters in Sudanese capital Khartoum, U.S. official next day called Saudi and UAE govts which support Sudan’s military leadership; both released statements regretting violence and urging Sudan’s military to reopen talks with protesters.
The quarrel between Gulf monarchies has spilled into Somalia, with the fragile state now caught between the rival interests of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The competition has already aggravated intra-Somali disputes. All sides should take a step back before these tensions mount further.