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Hirst: When the Saudis and Emiratis disagree and tension between them explodes


Saudi writer David Hirst says Saudi Arabia and the UAE have suffered decades of rivalry, and tension between them is now erupting in Yemen.

The UAE is in the process of imitating Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the highest civilian medal, just two weeks after he issued a decree stripping Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status, Hirst said.

He points out that the Indian official will arrive in Abu Dhabi on Friday for the award, and that this makes business ideal for the UAE, which he describes as the "small Gulf Spartans" seeking to establish its seaborne empire, from the ports of Yemen to the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean and beyond.

India is the world's third-largest energy consumer and the second-largest trading partner of the UAE, he said, asking why the Emiratis should take care of the 7 million Kashmiri in the Indian-administered part of the region, whose internationally recognized dispute is now treated as an "internal matter" for India.

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Yemen traps
The writer adds that the issue of Kashmir is not terrible or strange to Saudi Arabia, which is based on the legitimacy of presenting itself as a voice for Muslims, four million of whom live in the Kashmir Valley.

He adds that the UAE's route to India's unlimited markets is full of elephant traps for its Saudi neighbor, and these traps start in Saudi Arabia's backyard in Yemen.

The article explains that the UAE and Saudi Arabia's strategies towards the country it destroyed through their intervention against the Houthis varied widely.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have trained and funded local Yemeni militias. But the Saudis want to direct the effort in Yemen to the north, in terms of all attacks on air bases, airports and Saudi oil infrastructure.

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Southern separatists
He adds that the UAE, in turn, clearly supports the southern separatists in Yemen, having failed in its attempt to bring the regime of the late President Ali Abdullah Saleh to life through his son, amid a large redeployment of forces loyal to it in the region.

The writer points to the takeover of the southern Transitional Council forces supported by the United Arab Emirates on the coastal city of Aden, and now rallied around a number of camps in the neighboring province of Abyan, loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

He explains that even amid the fog of war and the ever-changing matrix of tribal and loyalty in Yemen, the capture of Aden by the NTC was supported by 400 armored vehicles driven by UAE-backed mercenaries.

The writer refers to an article by Professor of Sociology at Kuwait University Mohammed al-Rumaihi published in the Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat in which he called for the division of Yemen into two Yemenis.

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Influence and ports
Al-Rumaihi proposes the emergence of a real and modern state in southern Yemen that is capable of extending its influence over all of the southern interior, capable of securing the Red Sea and the Strait of Bab al-Mandab, and capable of confronting the extremism of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and preventing them from filling the political vacuum in the country.

He points out that if Hodeidah port were annexed to the south of Yemen, the north would be able to find its own mechanism that would ensure a certain degree of stability.

He wonders whether this proposal is in the interest of Saudi Arabia, which has become difficult to protect its airports and military bases from drones and missiles launched from Yemen, pointing out that Riyadh has sent troops on a training and advisory mission to Pakistan.

He also cites an article by Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut, who says Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have suffered decades of hostility over land and maritime disputes and competition between the Zayeds and Saudis.

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Salad and suppression
When Bin Salman took over the crown prince in Saudi Arabia, a power-hungry leader, Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed, did not hesitate to seize the opportunity.

He explains that it was Bin Zayed and his ambassador, Yusuf Al Otaiba - not the Saudi establishment - who built the road leading to the door of the Oval Office of the Saudi crown prince.

He points out that this does not absolve bin Salman of responsibility for the oppression and horror that has engulfed his country, through campaigns of arrest, torture and looting of political opponents and rivals from the royal family alike.

He says that what the Saudi crown prince is doing under the guise of "modernization and anti-corruption" is the fact that bin Salman is now surrounded by followers of their primary loyalty to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, which did not hide the rest of the members of the Saudi royal family.

Serious game
The writer adds that the Emiratis play a serious game of "Russian Roulette" with bin Salman, pointing out that the latter established under the influence of bin Zayed direct relations with Israel, ignoring the Palestinians, and points out that his abandonment of occupied Kashmir goes hand in hand with his policy towards Palestine.

He says that the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi has trained his Saudi student to ignore the Islamic feeling and the Saudi heritage, but these files weigh heavily abandoned for the Saudi state, the price in the Arab and Islamic world is high.

He adds that it is difficult to pay this price by a small country such as the UAE, but by a country such as Saudi Arabia is weakened every year under this "bad" rule.

Once the United States wakes up to the fact that bin Salman is a major obstacle to US military and strategic interests in the Gulf, he will leave.

He adds that some Saudis close to the royal family believe that this could happen before bin Salman becomes king, where all UAE bets stop.

The article concludes that the normalization of relations between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi will be faster than Bin Zayed believes.

Source: aljazeera

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