News ID: 256830
Published: 0125 GMT August 04, 2019

UAE foreign minister: Abu Dhabi, Riyadh prefer diplomacy with Iran

UAE foreign minister: Abu Dhabi, Riyadh prefer diplomacy with Iran

National Desk

As a major development in the region, the United Arab Emirates has decided to change its policy toward Iran in a bid to put an end to the current tensions in the region, with the Persian Gulf Arab country’s foreign minister having said recently that the UAE and Saudi Arabia prefer a political approach to their problems with Iran.

In a message posted on his Twitter account on August 2, the UAE’s Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash emphasized continued cooperation between the two Arab states and said the two countries believe in a political approach rather than confrontation with Iran.

Previously, some regional media reported a change in UAE's position regarding Iran. The Anadolu News Agency in Turkey had also reported that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of Dubai has called for a change in the UAE's policy vis-a-vis Iran.

On August 1, the UAE coast guard officials signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance maritime border security cooperation.

The event took place after officials from Iran and the UAE met for the first time in six years in the Iranian capital to discuss ways of boosting maritime security. 

Tehran and Abu Dhabi held their last such gathering in Tehran in October 2013. The latest meeting comes following a chain of naval accidents in the region’s waters.

The meeting between Iran and the UAE coast guard officials was interpreted by some as a sign of change in UAE's policy toward Iran.

The situation in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz has been extremely volatile in recent months following the US military deployment in the Persian Gulf on the pretext of countering threats posed by Iran.

In another development, while reports from Iran and the rest of the region said the UAE has withdrawn from the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen, Gargash said developments regarding UAE forces' move from Yemen have taken place in coordination with Saudi Arabia.

The UAE as part of the coalition has moved out a large part of its forces from Yemen in late June, giving rise to speculations about its withdrawal from the Saudi-led coalition.

Dubai, one of Iran's leading trading partners in the region and a major hub for exports to Iran has suffered losses as a result of US sanctions on Iran. According to a Reuters report, things have been changing in Dubai's Murshid Bazaar, once frequented by Iranian businessmen. Businesses have closed and properties are up for rent after Iranians abandoned the market.

Also the insecurity in the Persian Gulf as a result of tensions between Iran and the United States have affected business.

Tensions have been running high since Washington’s decision in May last year to abandon the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

Tensions between the two nations deteriorated after Iran shot down a US surveillance drone on June 20 following its violation of Iranian airspace.

Several oil tankers were also targeted near the Persian Gulf last month, with Washington and its ally Saudi Arabia quickly blaming Iran for the suspicious attacks. Tehran has rejected the accusations of its involvement as baseless, saying the incidents in the Sea of Oman appear to be false flags meant to frame the Islamic Republic.

In the meantime, a policy shift about Iran may have taken place in a wider scale in the region. Saudi Arabia has been mysteriously silent about Tehran during the past month.

During the same period, some Iranian officials including Foreign Minister Zarif have expressed readiness for a rapprochement with Riyadh.

Reuters quoted Zarif as having said on Wednesday July 31 that "Iran is prepared for dialogue if Saudi Arabia is also ready."


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