The UAE and Iran: The Different Layers of a Complex Security Issue

  • William Guéraiche


The emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a force in northern Iraq and Syria has shed new light on the “Iranian issue” in the world in general and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in particular. Just a few weeks before the June 29, 2014, establishment of the group’s self-proclaimed Caliphate, cooperation between Iran and the United States seemed out of reach if not unbelievable. However, virtually overnight, ten years of war rhetoric almost vanished, transforming the Republic of the Mullahs into a suitable partner in the regional security setting. Most of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries meanwhile reshuffled their priorities. The danger ofradical Islam from Tunisia to Iraq has superseded the fear of a Shi’a expansion around the Gulf. In this blurred regional context, the leaders of the region have sent mixed messages. Diplomatic activity increased in late 2013 between the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and the Islamic Republic, surprising international observers. On January 13, 2014, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, called on the international community to lift the sanctions against Iran, stating that Iran was a neighbor. He remarked, “we” have no problem with the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI).1


Foreign Policy United Arab Emirate Foreign Affair Foreign Minister Kuwait City 
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© William Guéraiche 2016

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  • William Guéraiche

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