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Saudi Arabia and the Emirates show some disagreement with the United States

The Saudi kingdom and the Emirati country could be distancing themselves from the American giant due to the latter's alleged lack of interest in the Middle East
Mohammed bin Salman and Joe Biden

PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   Mohammed bin Salman and Joe Biden

Saudi Arabia could reduce its investments in the United States and the United Arab Emirates has shown political dissent with the US, according to reports by the media outlet Al Arab, something that does not favour relations between the Arab countries and the North American nation. 

Ties between the two Arab countries and the United States are not the best at the moment. According to Al Arab, Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's crown prince, is reportedly critical of President Joe Biden's administration for alleged US interference in the Kingdom's internal affairs, implying that Saudi investment in the US would be reduced as a result. The crown prince gave an interview to The Atlantic in which he said that he "does not care" if Joe Biden misinterprets what he said, leaving a certain feeling of unease, as it seems that the US president has had no contact with him despite the fact that he has been in the White House for more than a year, according to information from Al Arab.

The crown prince, who believes that Biden could focus his interests away from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, said that he has no right to influence Saudi policy or to define with whom the kingdom should deal. "Lobbying has not worked throughout history, and it will not work," said Mohammed bin Salman about possible pressures or conditionalities on Saudi foreign policy. 

According to a number of experts, the US's relative neglect absolves Riyadh of any political obligation to the United States. In this sense, Mohammed bin Salman accords high status to his country, a member of the G20 and one of the world's fastest-growing economic nations, putting it on a par with the major powers. 

El presidente de Estados Unidos, Joe Biden
PHOTO/FILE - U.S. President Joe Biden

On this point, it is also worth highlighting the possible nuclear agreement that could be reached with the Islamic Republic of Iran, through the negotiations underway with Europe and the United States. Saudi Arabia remains suspicious of Iran, its great political rival in the Middle East and a major representative of the Shia branch of Islam that is fighting for dominance in the region against the Sunni side sponsored by the Saudi kingdom. The Saudi kingdom does not like the rapprochement with the Ayatollahs' regime. 

On the other hand, the UAE ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, reportedly spoke of tension with the US, according to Al Arab, while there has been some evidence of a rift between Abu Dhabi and Washington over the vote on the US-sponsored draft resolution at the United Nations condemning the Russian attack on Ukraine. 

Russia has logically been isolated on the international stage for its attack on Ukraine, although the latest UN condemnation resolution raised certain doubts about the vote due to the tradition of non-alignment of non-Western countries, which dates back to the Cold War era. As the newspaper El País noted, the Arab world maintained a less prominent profile, with the exception of Kuwait, when it came to harshly condemning the Russian offensive. The UAE ended up supporting the resolution condemning Russia despite abstaining in the previous Friday's failed resolution, according to Al Arab. Most African and Latin American countries supported the initiative, while the two Asian giants, China and India, chose to abstain. China was one of three countries that abstained in Friday's vote on the failed Security Council resolution, while India, dependent on Moscow for military aid, maintained an equidistant position. 

Yousef al-Otaiba, embajador de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos en Estados Unidos
PHOTO/WAM - Yousef al-Otaiba, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the US

In this regard, US media criticised the UAE after it abstained from voting in favour of the US resolution condemning Russia, although it later came out in support of the resolution condemning Vladimir Putin's attack on Ukraine. 

According to various analysts, as reported by Al Arab, Al-Otaiba's intention was to explain that the UAE's position towards the United States had not changed, but that it was the US giant that had made a political shift by reducing its interests in the Middle East and increasing its presence in Asia due to the US interest in confronting the expansion of China, the US giant's main international competitor in that region. 

The United States decided some time ago to move away from the Middle East and the Gulf, with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as a prime example, in order to focus more attention on Asia. This may not have pleased important countries in the region, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
 
Moreover, the US response to the Houthi attacks against Saudi and Emirati interests using drones and missiles, most notably the last one against Abu Dhabi that left three oil workers dead, alerted the Gulf countries to the US strategic commitment to security in the region. And the US's relaxation of this relationship could lead to a more negative stance by the Gulf states towards the US, according to Al Arab. 

According to Al Arab, the UAE's position in the Security Council when it abstained from voting in favour of the US draft resolution condemning Russia is understandable, as it was in some ways a response to the US's lack of commitment to support the Gulf's position, and also in relation to the provisions on the threat posed by Iran to the region.

Un presunto ataque con un dron por parte de los rebeldes Houthi de Yemen que tenía como objetivo una instalación petrolera clave en Abu Dabi mató a tres personas
PHOTO/Planet Labs PBC via Ap - A suspected drone strike by Yemen's Houthi rebels targeting a key oil facility in Abu Dhabi killed three people.

"Our relationship with the US is like any other," Al-Otaiba said during a defence, technology and security industry conference in Abu Dhabi. "Today we are going through a stress test phase, but I am confident that we will come out of it and we will be in a better position," he added on the second day of the conference, as reported by Al Arab. 

Political analysts point out that the UAE still sees itself as an ally of the US, but it is up to the Biden administration to keep the relationship on an optimal footing and treat it as an equal partner, as Al Arab noted. 
 
According to several analysts, US diplomacy must take into account that the UAE has evolved and other countries, including those that compete with the United States, such as Russia and China, are seeking an important defence, economic and commercial partnership with the Gulf state, the way forward being equal cooperation that takes into account the interests of all at the same level. 

"I think it is fair to say that 10 or 20 years ago, the UAE was seen as a traditional high-tech buyer," Al-Otaiba said. "Today I think that has changed. We are no longer interested in just buying, we are interested in partnership," the UAE ambassador was quoted as saying by Al Arab.