UAE's newly elected ruler sees Iran, Islamists as threat to Gulf safe haven

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United Arab Emirates strongman Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who was formally elected president connected Saturday, led a realignment of the Middle East that created a caller anti-Iran axis with Israel and fought a rising tide of governmental Islam successful the region.

Working down the scenes for years arsenic de facto leader, Sheikh Mohammed, 61, transformed the UAE subject into a high-tech force, which coupled with its lipid well-being and concern hub status, extended Emirati power internationally.

Mohammed began wielding powerfulness successful a play when his half-brother President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, who died connected Friday, suffered bouts of illness, including a stroke successful 2014.

MbZ, arsenic helium is known, was driven by a "certain fatalistic enactment of thinking" that Gulf Arab rulers could nary longer trust connected their main believer the United States, according to erstwhile U.S. envoy to the UAE Barbara Leaf, particularly after Washington abandoned Egypt's Hosni Mubarak during the 2011 Arab Spring.

From his powerfulness basal successful the superior Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed issued a "calm and cold" caution to then-President Barack Obama not to backmost uprisings that could stretch retired and endanger Gulf dynastic rule, according to Obama's memoir, which described MbZ arsenic the "savviest" Gulf leader.

A U.S. State Department authoritative serving successful the Biden administration, which has had fraught ties with the UAE successful caller months, described him arsenic a strategist who brings humanities position to discussions.

"He will talk not lone astir the present, but spell backmost years, decades, successful immoderate cases, speaking to trends implicit time," the authoritative said.

MbZ backed the 2013 subject ousting of Egypt's elected Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Mursi, and championed Saudi Arabia's Prince Mohammed bin Salman arsenic helium roseate to powerfulness successful a 2017 palace coup, touting him arsenic a antheral Washington could woody with and the lone 1 capable to unfastened up the kingdom.

Encouraged by blistery ties with the then U.S. President Donald Trump, the two Gulf hawks lobbied for Washington's maximum unit run connected Iran, boycotted neighbouring Qatar for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, and launched a costly conflict to effort to interruption the grip of Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis.

The UAE besides waded into conflicts from Somalia to Libya and Sudan earlier upending decades of Arab statement by forging ties with Israel successful 2020, on with Bahrain, successful U.S.-brokered deals known arsenic the Abraham Accords that drew Palestinian ire.

The accords were driven by shared concerns implicit Iran but besides perceived benefits to the UAE system and fatigue with a Palestinian enactment "that doesn't listen", said 1 diplomat.

TACTICAL THINKER
While diplomats and analysts spot the confederation with Riyadh and Washington arsenic a pillar of UAE strategy, MbZ has not hesitated to determination independently when interests oregon economical reasons dictate.

The Ukraine situation exposed strains with Washington when the UAE abstained from a U.N. Security Council ballot condemning Russia's invasion. As an OPEC producer, on with lipid

Riyadh, the UAE besides rebuffed Western calls to pump more.

Abu Dhabi has ignored different U.S. concerns by arming and backing Libya's Khalifa Hafter against the internationally recognised authorities and engaging with Syria's Bashar al-Assad.

With Riyadh, the biggest divergence came when the UAE mostly withdrew from Yemen arsenic the unpopular war, successful which much than 100 Emiratis died, got mired successful subject stalemate.

When Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir reneged connected a committedness to wantonness Islamist allies, Abu Dhabi orchestrated the 2019 coup against him.

STABILITY FOREMOST
Although helium says helium was attracted to their Islamist ideology successful his youth, MbZ has framed the Muslim Brotherhood arsenic 1 of the gravest threats to stableness successful the Middle East.

Like Saudi Arabia, the UAE accuses the Brotherhood of betrayal after it sheltered members persecuted successful Egypt successful the 1960s, lone to spot them work for alteration successful their big countries.

"I am an Arab, I am a Muslim, and I pray. And successful the 1970s and aboriginal 1980s I was 1 of them. I judge these guys person an agenda," MbZ said successful a 2007 gathering with U.S. officials, according to Wikileaks.

Educated successful the UAE and the subject officer's assemblage at Sandhurst successful Britain, Sheikh Mohammed's mistrust of Islamists heightened after 2001, when two of his countrymen were among the 19 hijackers successful the Sept. 11 attacks connected the United States.

"He looked astir and saw that galore of the younger procreation successful the portion were very attracted to Osama bin Laden's anti-Western mantra," different diplomat said. "As helium erstwhile said to me: 'If they can do it to you, they can do it to us.'"

Despite years of enmity, MbZ chose to prosecute with Iran and Turkey arsenic COVID-19 and rising economical contention with Saudi Arabia turned absorption to development, pushing the UAE towards further liberalisation while keeping a lid connected governmental dissent.

Seen arsenic a moderniser at location and a charismatic people's antheral by galore diplomats, MbZ doggedly promoted the antecedently low-profile Abu Dhabi, which holds the UAE's lipid wealth, by spurring improvement successful energy, infrastructure and technology.

As lawman ultimate commandant of equipped forces helium was credited with turning the UAE subject into 1 of the astir effectual successful the Arab world, according to experts who accidental helium instituted subject s...

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