The double-dealing of UAE against Iran

Iranian Diplomacy | Ali Mousawi Khalkhali: The UAE has recently displayed a shift in its approach towards Iran.

The tanker incidents in mid-June and rising tensions between Iran and the United States, have alarmed the Emiratis and prompted them to change their behavior towards Tehran. The UAE has embarked on a campaign of hostility, Iranophobia promotion and intriguing Washington against Tehran in the recent years.

Thus, despite their new approach, it is highly unlikely that UAE dispose of its Iranophobia strategy. Anti-Iranism anywhere, anytime, is still a strategy of the United Arab Emirates. The truth is they have only changed their tactics due to circumstances.

In the recent years, especially after Donald Trump’s ascension to power, UAE has striven to maximally radicalize the US President’s Iran policy as much as possible. Mohammed bin Zayed, a leading figure of the Iranophobia in the Arab world, is credited with shifting Trump’s anti-Saudi stance to an anti-Iranian stance. He was undoubtedly an influential figure in persuading Trump to leave the JCPOA.

UAE’s anti-Iran campaign predates that of Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. Blocking bank accounts of its Iranian residents, curbing banking transactions with Iran, random detention of Iranian citizens, mistreating Iranian tourists in UAE airports, and harassing Iranian traders all happened before Trump’s dismissal of the JCPOA and reimposition of sanctions against Iran.

These behaviors carried on uninterrupted until three months ago. Even as one senior Iranian official once said, UAE’s approach towards Iran was even more mischievous than that of Israel. That is why it is hard to believe the UAE has changed course against Iran.

UAE’s behavior could be compared to that of the fictional hyenas in the Lion King, who lured Scar, the antagonist, to plot against Simba, only to beg for mercy from Simba after Scar’s death. The truth is that Iran cannot forget UAE’s hostile behavior. It would be difficult for Iran to forget how it was forced to forfeit billions of dollars in the recent years due to unfair treatment of its citizens and traders and blockage of its trade channels.

However, after downing of the United States’ drone by Iran and tanker incidents, Emiratis found out that they should not tie their hope to Donald Trump. They became wary of the consequences of an accidental war between Tehran and Washington, since its ramifications would spread across the region and leave their impact on UAE as a main driver of hostilities against Iran.

Analysts have predicted that UAE will bear the brunt of a full-scale war in the Middle East whose damages are estimated to go beyond one thousand billion dollars. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones, it goes. But UAE leaders seem to have forgotten this lesson of wisdom.

Despite what some may believe, Iran will not be deceived by the UAE and will not forget economic hurdles set against it by the sheikhdom in the recent years. Iran acts in a calculated manner, far from emotional, and measures its responses according to the other side’s behavior.

We will talk more about UAE’s expectations from Iran, its dishonest promises on Yemen, and its less strict approach towards Iran in economic transaction.

* This piece was originally published in IRD Persian Service. Ali Mousawi Khalkhali is the editor of Iranian Diplomacy.