Author: Robert F. Worth
Affiliation: The New York Times
Organization/Publisher: The New York Times
Date/Place: January 9, 2020, U.S.
Type of Literature: Analysis
Word Count: 9245
Keywords: Mohammed bin Zayed, U.A.E, Islamism, Pluralism
In this article, the author delves into the personality, history and political vision of the ruler of U.A.E, Mohammed bin Zayed, referred to as MBZ in the text. The U.A.E has an interesting history of being a liberal autocracy in the shadow of the Wahabi-dominated Saudi Arabia or its sectarian rival, the Shiite theocracy of Iran, among others. By invoking personal interactions of people such as Richard Clarke, MBZ’s American consultant, the author demonstrates MBZ’s proactive efforts in making the Emirati population more active and engaged, weaning off the economy from oil and suppressing the Islamist forces that threaten his ideology as well as power. This he has done by reforming the civil servants, sending the progeny of even the royal family into the battlefield, building extravagant libraries to educate the public, including women in the cabinet among many other measures, while pursuing a Western-friendly policy and carefully leaving its own mark in Middle-Eastern politics. The success of the small nation in toppling in Egypt’s democratically elected leader Mohammed Morsi, its support to Haftar’s militia forces in Libya, its participation and subsequent withdrawal from the Yemen war, and the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood are part of a carefully curated policy to curb the influence of Islamists in the region. However, its efforts to present a united front against Iran might be undermined by its regional rivalry and proxy war with Qatar. Furthermore, after the Obama administrations’ covert negotiations with Iran, MBZ has felt that the US has not compensated the U.A.E for its sacrifices and tilted more towards Saudi Arabia. Even so, U.A.E has more muscle in the region than its size implies, and its ruler is not averse to writing its neighbor’s’ futures in order to secure his own kingdom.
By: Sahar Sadiq, CIGA Research Intern