Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Saudi Arabia, UAE act in the interest of regional stability | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Major Mariam Al-Mansouri, the UAE air-forces’ first female pilot, attracted widespread praise and criticism for carrying out airstrikes on ISIS in Syria. (EPA/Ali Aljenibi/UAE official news agency)

Reuters news agency recently published two significant reports: one about what it described as the bold foreign policy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE; the other dealt with Turkey’s frustration with the West and its regional isolation.

The foreign policy of Saudi Arabia and the UAE should not be described as bold in relation to the two countries’ recent participation in the international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Instead, it would be more precise to say that Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have become more realistic and aware of the dangers surrounding them. The reality is that the majority of Arab countries have become hamstrung by either mismanagement; subordination to Iran; violent crackdown on civilians, such as in Syria; or by political Islam that has shown disrespect to the state and has sought to strengthen its own ideology, as is the case in Egypt. This is not to mention what Nuri Al-Maliki did in Iraq, Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, Muammar Gaddafi in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya.

This of course represents the antithesis of the rational approach of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Both countries seek to maintain the prestige and stability of the state, gradually promoting openness and reform while ensuring a politically stable atmosphere in neighboring countries. This has collided with Turkey’s ideological and unrealistic vision embodied by its “zero problems with neighbors” policy and by its decision to support Islamist parties at the expense of the concept of the state. As the Reuters report suggests, Turkey, after the so-called Arab Spring, was keen on a Middle East governed by political Islam with the Brotherhood and Ankara at its center. The report added that Turkey did not realize that its support for the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups had put it at loggerheads with well-established powers that proved more pragmatic than Turkish decision-makers had expected.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are among these well-established countries, and they are backed by a real public desire for stability and peace as was evident in the Arab Gulf and Egypt in the aftermath of the uprisings. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are not fragile or hopeful countries. Instead, they are the product of a strict and ancient diplomatic experience. Contrary to Erdoğan’s Turkey, Riyadh—since the era of the founder of the Kingdom King Abdulaziz (may God have mercy on him)—has always been firm in its position, governed by values and motivated by interests and clear goals, never giving in to the winds sweeping across the region. Saudi Arabia is not governed by a firebrand political discourse but by the shrewdness and the dreams of those who lived in the desert.

Therefore, the Saudi-UAE move to support the Egyptian state, stop Bashar Al-Assad’s crimes, defuse the Yemeni crisis, stem violence in Libya and eradicate terror and radicalism in the region does not emanate from a desire for a political role but rather to preserve Arab security and strengthen the prestige of Arab states exhausted and systematically destroyed by Iran, the Brotherhood and their followers.