From the center of the twentieth century till the primary decade of the twenty first, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was the primary fortress of Arab reactionism. This was because of the dimension of the Kingdom, its location within the coronary heart of the Arabian Peninsula, its custodianship over the Muslim holy websites in Makkah and Madinah, its inhabitants and, after all, its oil wealth.
This position was linked intently to the strategic relationship that the Kingdom cast with the US on the finish of World Warfare II, as Riyadh was Washington’s fundamental ally within the Center East in the course of the Chilly Warfare period, confronting the Arab nationalist motion backed by the Soviet Union. The Saudi position was facilitated by the sharp political polarisation that characterised that interval and which made Washington undertake a really conservative method, according to the ultra-conservative nature of the Kingdom since its creation.
The area has witnessed a harmful transformation lately, which has not but acquired the eye and evaluation it deserves. That is primarily based on the rise of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and its Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Zayed, within the management of Arab reactionism. It’s ample to have a look at the harmful position that Abu Dhabi performs in varied regional scorching spots resembling Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia and Syria, in addition to occupied Palestine and Abu Dhabi’s embrace of Fatah renegade Muhammed Dahlan. There may be additionally the strategic relationship that the United Arab Emirates, of which Abu Dhabi is the capital, has established with Israel, which is now uncovered for all to see.
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I described a 12 months in the past what I known as the “reactionary tripartite alliance” of Abu Dhabi, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s Egypt and Russia. Abu Dhabi’s main position on this alliance has grow to be clearer. Saudi Arabia typically helps Abu Dhabi with out at all times taking part alongside it, as in Libya, for instance. That is additionally evidenced by Riyadh remaining exterior the normalisation group, or relatively the open alliance with Israel during which Abu Dhabi and Cairo are each engaged. The Saudis are additionally exterior these in search of to normalise relations with the Assad regime in Syria, the most recent episode of Abu Dhabi’s reactionary regional offensive.
What are the worldwide and regional circumstances that underlie this essential transformation? And what about Bin Zayed’s private ambition and his immersion in reactionism?
An important side is definitely the tip of the Chilly Warfare period and modifications within the place of the US, particularly after the failure of its mission to dominate the Center East by way of the battle it launched on Iraq in 1991. This was adopted by the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, which resulted in failure and the withdrawal of US troops, leaving the federal government in Baghdad open to Iranian affect. Added to the combination have been the Arab Spring revolutions that erupted within the Center East-North Africa ten years in the past, inflicting panic amongst conservative regimes and forces within the area.
It was a scare for these forces when Washington underneath President Barack Obama most popular to go together with the Arab Spring so as to protect US pursuits and according to its ideological democratic claims. For this the US relied on the mediation of Qatar.
All sides of the conservative Arab axis resented this, however Saudi Arabia continued to go together with Washington, primarily due to its better concern of Iran. Abu Dhabi doesn’t have the identical preoccupation with Iran because the Kingdom does, so the regional uprisings have grow to be Bin Zayed’s fundamental obsession.
Abu Dhabi can be a lot much less depending on America than the Saudis. Therefore, we noticed the emirate starting to weave an in depth relationship with Moscow, which now occupies the place of the superpower defending old-style Arab regimes. Russia first demonstrated this by way of its intervention to avoid wasting Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus.
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Bin Zayed and Abu Dhabi even started interfering in US politics, simply as Benjamin Netanyahu did. The previous Israeli prime minister went past what any Israeli authorities had completed earlier than him.
In cooperation with Russia, Abu Dhabi backed Donald Trump’s presidential marketing campaign in 2016, and Trump authorised it to direct his regional coverage after his victory. This made him urge Riyadh to impose a boycott on Qatar, which started days after Trump’s go to to the Kingdom, his first overseas go to after taking workplace. With Joe Biden now US president, the connection between Abu Dhabi and Moscow has been strengthened by way of their joint intervention with Cairo in Libya.
Immediately, we see the transformation of the aforementioned tripartite alliance right into a quadripartite alliance with the accession of Israel. This has made it doable for Abu Dhabi to maneuver into an open relationship with the occupation state. It’s possible that within the coming months, Syria will witness the implications of that transformation, particularly with regard to the roles of Iran and Turkey on Syrian soil.
This text first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 17 November 2021
The views expressed on this article belong to the creator and don’t essentially replicate the editorial coverage of Center East Monitor.