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Mon Aug 12, 2019, 11:53 PM

The UAE's ambitions backfire as it finds itself on the front line of U.S.-Iran tensions

Source: Washington Post

The UAE’s ambitions backfire as it finds itself on the front line of U.S.-Iran tensions

By Liz Sly August 11

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — One of America’s staunchest allies in the Middle East and a driving force behind President Trump’s hard-line approach to Iran is breaking ranks with Washington, calling into question how reliable an ally it would be in the event of a war between the United States and Iran.

In the weeks since the United States dispatched naval reinforcements to the Persian Gulf to deter Iranian threats to shipping, the government of the United Arab Emirates has sent a coast guard delegation to Tehran to discuss maritime security, putting it at odds with Washington’s goal of isolating Iran. After limpet mines exploded on tankers off the UAE’s coast in June, the UAE stood apart from the United States and Saudi Arabia and declined to blame Iran.

It also announced a drawdown of troops from Yemen, where, alongside Saudi Arabia, it has been battling Iranian-backed Houthis for control of the country. That opened the door this past weekend to a takeover by UAE-backed separatist militias of the U.S.-supported government in the city of Aden, a further divergence from U.S. policy.

Former U.S. defense secretary Jim Mattis once nicknamed the UAE “Little Sparta” because of its stalwart support for U.S. military ventures around the world, including in Somalia and Afghanistan. Much of the recent war against the Islamic State was launched from the U.S. air base located at al-Dhafra in the UAE, an integral part of America’s security footprint in the Middle East.

But as its relationship with Washington puts the UAE on the front line of a potential war, the Emiratis are shifting gears, calling for de-escalation with Iran and distancing themselves from the Trump administration’s bellicose rhetoric.

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Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the-uaes-ambitions-backfire-as-it-finds-itself-on-the-front-line-of-us-iran-tensions/2019/08/11/d3ee41a0-509d-11e9-bdb7-44f948cc0605_story.html

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