How UAE Profits From The Chaos Of War And Terror
The UAE is seen as a glamorous and rich country, but recent interventions in the Middle East and Africa have demonstrated its ghastly logic to become a global player to the detriment of human rights. As CJ Werleman puts it, the Emirate “operates as a global terror organization in the way it advances its strategic interests by sowing violence and chaos across the world.”
Ordinary people do not see that this relatively small country has enough power to destabilize not only the Middle East but also Africa. Although some clandestine and criminal military operations can be done secretly, the country’s support of some of the most brutal dictators and human rights offenders is in plain sight.
Human rights groups, advocates, and journalists have long called out all of UAE’s sketchy interventions in multiple countries and affairs. Even the United Nations have accused the UAE along with Saudi Arabia and Iran of committing war crimes in Yemen, a country going through the most catastrophic humanitarian crisis in modern history.
From March 2015, the Emirate has focused on the war in Yemen with the intention of crushing the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. In Yemen, the UAE controls all the seaports and oil wells and, since 2020, it has seized the UNESCO-listed island of Socotra. This Island is rich in natural minerals, precious stones and strategically connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian sea.
In return for normalizing the Israeli occupation, the UAE has received access to US modern weapons systems such as the F35 fighter jet program and is establishing a long-term bond with the country. Additionally, the UAE and Israel have partnered to build a new spy base on the island of Socotra.
The UAE has also long been involved in Libya and is one of the half-dozen countries that, in violation of a UN arms embargo, is arming and supporting General Khalifa Haftar. He is the leader of one of the most violent terrorist groups in Africa, the Libyan national army, that has the capital Tripoli surrounded. It has allegedly killed dozens of civilians.
Haftar-led militias have been accused of barbaric war crimes, including mass executions, mass rapes, and the deliberate bombardment of residential neighborhoods. As Human Rights Watch revealed, the UAE support of Haftar goes beyond and in 2020 it set up a private company under the name “Black Shield Security Services” to trick Sudanese migrants to fight in Libya.
Between September and November 2019, the Emirate recruited 400 workers. It made them believe they were going to work in Dubai hotels and shopping centers as security guards but then confiscated their passports, took them to undisclosed locations for weeks of military training, and sent them to Libya as mercenaries to protect oil fields illegally seized by the Haftar.
In July this year, the UAE backed Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied’s power grab. He removed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspended parliament. Saied appointed himself as head of the executive authority until the formation of a new government, and lifted the immunity of politicians for 30 days, citing a provision in Tunisia’s 2014 post-revolution constitution.
Corrupt Afghan government officials have also seen support from the Emirate by funneling billions of stolen dollars meant for the Afghan people out of the country into Dubai, “which undermined support for the government and democracy, and broadened support for the Taliban”, CJ Werleman states.
Sabotaging Muslims across the world
The Emirate has hindered Muslim aspirations across the world. It normalizes Israel’s human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories, supports Kashmir’s revocation of the territory’s semi-autonomous state, and underpins China’s Uyghur Muslim tracking and rounding up with a black site operating in Dubai.
As analyst Giorgio Cafiero says, the country utilizes Islam to strengthen its legitimacy, compete with rival states’ visions for Islamic leadership, and project an image of moderation. This pillar of the UAE’s foreign policy became increasingly important following 9/11, and the Islamic State’s meteoric rise to power in Iraq and Syria in 2014.
Cafiero finds out that the country has real fears of political Islam fuelling change in the Emirate. In the 1990s, the UAE’s leadership began viewing the country’s local Muslim Brotherhood branch, al-Islah, as a big threat from ideational and security standpoints.
Then the Arab Spring uprisings took place. Despite the fact that the UAE and Qatar were not affected by the unrest, they saw the other four member-states of the Council plus Yemen falling into conflicts. This demonstrated “how the Gulf region was no longer fortressed from the turmoil throughout the rest of the greater Middle East”, as Cafiero expresses.
After 2011, the UAE was able to present itself as the counterrevolution by supporting those political and military forces that promised to limit the upheavals. In practice, this meant that it “took stronger action against Muslim Brotherhood Islamists, who could be considered the big winners of the upheavals as of 2012”, as Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik reports.
Since the UAE possesses Socotra and has 78 operational marine and island terminals it now has some type of control in 40 countries across 6 continents. This makes it one of the most powerful nations on the planet.
While some experts have not seen yet a shift in the regional balance of power, the region seems to be slowly forming two blocs with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain on one side and countries like Turkey, Qatar, and Iran, which are not necessarily allies on all fronts, on the other. Moreover, the alliance between the UAE and Israel can cause a shift of the regional equilibrium in favor of both countries.