U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, leading a large delegation including Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, to meet with the new president of the rich Gulf nation, Mohammad bin Zayed.
Kamala Harris will have to meet with the man nicknamed “MBZ”, elected president on Saturday by the rulers of the seven emirates that make up this state, including Dubai and the capital Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Zayed has already ruled the country de facto before officially replacing his ailing paternal brother, Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, who died on Friday. “The United States takes the strength of its relationship and cooperation with the United Arab Emirates very seriously,” Harris said in a statement from the White House. “So we go there to express our condolences, but also our commitment to strengthen this relationship,” he insisted.
World dignitaries have flocked to Abu Dhabi since Saturday to congratulate the new president on this small, oil-rich state that has become a key player in the Middle East in recent years. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were among the leaders who traveled this week.
The American delegation that arrived Monday included several other senior American officials, including Lloyd Austin, Minister of Defense, John Kerry, special envoy for climate, William Burns, director of the CIA, the main agency of foreign American intelligence. It will be the largest visit by U.S. officials to the Gulf, a wealthy region with important partners including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Relations between Washington and the Gulf have however gone through cold periods in recent years, with Americans sometimes accused by some observers of losing interest in the region in favor of their priority of Asia. The U.S. administration, for its part, has been hurt by the Gulf countries ’refusal to increase oil production to calm the surge in prices in world markets since Ukraine’s invasion of Russia in late February.
In early March, the United Arab Emirates ’ambassador to the United States, Youssef Al Otaïba, estimated that relations between Washington and Abu Dhabi were“ tested ”while insisting on the desire to revive them in the long term. “Our relationship with the United States is like any other relationship. There are days when it’s good and days when it’s questionable,” he said at a conference.
Close to the United States, various Gulf powers have also forged important relations with Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a staunch ally of oil-exporting countries. Neither Saudi Arabia nor the United Arab Emirates supported Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, though.
The two Gulf countries, however, are expecting more support from the United States on the issue of Yemen, where the war they are waging against the Houthis, rebels close to Iran, is broken even if the establishment of a stagnant progress produces shameful hope. In Morocco, Antony Blinken met with Mohammad ben Zayed at the end of March, assuring that cooperation between the two countries “really counts”. “We are determined to do everything we can to help you defend yourself effectively (…) against Houthi terrorist attacks,” Blinken said.
The United States is not the only one seeking to reconnect with the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf country that is trying to ease its relations with the region. Mohammad ben Zayed welcomed Tamim ben Hamad Al-Thani, emir of Qatar, another Gulf state where he had severed ties for a while. Even Iran, a neighboring country, sent its foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, to Abu Dhabi on Monday. According to a press release from the presidency, Iranian head of state, Ebrahim Raisi, congratulated Mohammad bin Zayed and expressed hope of strengthening relations in the “interests of the two countries”.
US Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, leading a large delegation including Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, to meet with the new president of the rich Gulf country, Mohammad bin Zayed.
Kamala Harris will meet the man nicknamed “MBZ”, elected president on Saturday of the seven sovereigns …