The United States ’relationship with the Gulf countries is going through a dangerous stage

Doubt seems to hold some leaders in the Gulf countries about the ability and willingness of the United States to help them if needed. This is the principle on which regional relations with the United States have been based since the end of World War II. This week, two strong public statements, in the form of a warning, coming from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates came out to support this impression, which has been spreading in the region for several years. First, Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman spoke in a lengthy interview with The Atlantic. He revealed his vision of Saudi society, religious restrictions, Saudi society, and the development projects he has brought for the country.

Asked about U.S. relations, especially in light of the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Prince Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS) frankly stated: “We have a long relationship with U.S. history and if what matters to us is our to preserve and strengthen it… We have many common interests and opportunities to reproduce it, and we also have a good chance of reducing them. We will not give anyone the right to interfere in our internal affairs, that is up to us, the Saudis ”. MBS further recalled that Saudi investments in the United States amounted to 800 billion USD. At the same time, Chinese investments are only worth 100 billion USD and are just waiting to grow.

With Iran and Israel, the Crown Prince wants to be pragmatic.

“Iranians are our neighbors, and they will be our neighbors forever, we can’t get them out, they can’t get us out, so we better settle things, and find ways to do that. .together, we have had discussions for four months… I hope we can reach a position that is good for both countries, and have a bright future for Saudi Arabia and Iran ”.

Regarding Israel and because of the relations established by some Gulf countries with this country, MBS believes that within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) each country is completely free to do whatever it wants. As long as it doesn’t just hurt other Council members. The UAE has every right to do what it deems fit for its interests. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, hopes that the problem between Israelis and Palestinians will be resolved: “We don’t see Israel as an enemy, we see it as a potential ally in as many interests as we can. will continue to work together, but some issues need to be resolved before they can be achieved “.

In this interview, Prince Salman showed his determination to implement his vision for his country. He no longer expected much from his American ally, who had lost credibility. He also knows that he needs to negotiate with the powers in the region (Iran and Israel) and find ways to ensure the stability of his country in a turbulent environment.

In the same interview, MBS also recalls the strategic importance of its country having two coasts that are most important and = close to the two most important straits for the world economy and oil exports (Bab el Mandeb and Hormouz).

Mohamed Bin Salman also knows that the recent crisis in Ukraine will make his country more in need of the world economy. It is in this context that he had a telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin on March 4 (a major ally through OPEC+) to offer his mediation of the conflict and show his desire to maintain stability and balance. in the market. Saudi Arabia is a major player in its nearly century -old relationship with Russia, where it maintains close ties. There is always the exchange. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan visited Moscow on January 13 and the MBS met with Vladimir Putin twice in less than three weeks. This relationship is based on non -interference in internal affairs and on the fact that Moscow is less attentive to human rights. What do the Saudis ridicule of the Westerners who condition their international policy on this question. But above all there are significant interests binding Moscow and Riyadh within the OPEC + agreement, the effects of which are being felt deeply on oil prices.

United Arab Emirates shows their anger and their “neutrality”

The second statement from Youssef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Washington, was more direct and did not bother with frills. Speaking at a defense technology development conference in Abu Dhabi, the ambassador said relations between his country and Washington will go through a period of “ stress testing added diplomatically that he was sure that both countries would succeed in overcoming this difficulty. The ambassador with the rank of minister would not allow himself to such an exit without the permission of the very powerful and dubious Mohamed Bin Zayed who is de facto in charge of the fortunes of the Emirates. Al Otaiba also said his country is open to doing defense business in all companies and countries, but also seeks to develop its own defense industry to be more self -sufficient. “We want countries and companies to come here and build the industry.… We want people to bring their technology here. We want people to develop their technology here.” This concept is not new. in the UAE which has built defense and space partnerships with many countries.The most advanced cooperation in this area is Israel, where new technology development projects are underway.The choice to buy Rafales from France about this approach and a sign of bad humor vis-à-vis the United States.

This position was the result of the Emirati despite the very weak American reaction to the Houthis attack against the Dubai airport and leaving many dead. The Emiratis has also called for the re-registration of Houthis on the list of terrorist organizations for months, which Americans have been slow to do.

Another point of difference between the United Arab Emirates and the United States is the approach to the question of Syria. Abou Dabi prayed for a reintegration of Damascus within the Arab League and in concert with the countries. Sheikh Abdallah Bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, made a famous and highly publicized visit to Syria on November 8, where he was received by President Assad.

All of this has led to a hardening of the UAE’s position vis-à-vis the United States, a hardening that has shown itself to abstain from the Security Council, where the Emirates has held the rotating presidency since 1er March, during a vote condemning Russia for its aggression against Ukraine. Washington is reportedly asking for Israel’s help to influence Abu Dhabi’s position on the UNGA vote and get a vote to condemn the majority. The Emirati’s stated position was expressed as follows by Anwar Gergash, Mohamed Bin Zayed’s influential diplomatic adviser: In the Ukrainian crisis, our priority is to encourage all parties to resort to diplomatic action and negotiate to find a political solution ”. At other times, such a position is never possible. It is true that the Emirates aspires for a few years to become a major diplomatic power in the region like their neighbors Qatar or Omani with a start. With this in mind, the United Arab Emirates seeks to free themselves from Washington’s tenure and to display a neutrality of good quality that will allow them to play a role in various regional conflicts. , as is the case in Afghanistan. The rapprochement of Abu Dhabi to Ankara and the investments promised by Erdogan (10 billion USD) are further proof of the role they seek to play.

These clear signs of progressive detachment from America’s most powerful influence signal the loss of U.S. credibility in the region due to a series of strategic mistakes that began with the invasion of Iraq and its devastating consequences and not intervention. in Syria in 2015 under Obama’s leadership.

This series of errors can be devastating. The sad images of the hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan have finally convinced the Gulf countries that the United States has abandoned its protective role. States in the region have become convinced that they must rely on themselves for their security. It requires a closer alliance with Israel and, above all, accommodation with powerful Russia, which has shown unwavering commitment with the Assad regime in Syria.

For now, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are fully aware that they have no other alternative to maintaining close relations with Washington. The recent visit of Prince Salman, Crown Prince of Bahrain, to Washington comes two days after his father King Hamad in Riyadh where he spoke with King Salman and MBS. Discussions between Prince Salman and Anthony Blinken and Lloyd Austin, the Secretary of Defense (formerly head of US Central Command in Atlanta which is well acquainted with the Kingdom of Bahrain, where the Central Command of 5 is locatedand American fleet) focuses on regional security.

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