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Thursday, Jun 01, 2023

Senior UK politician praises UAE’s ‘quiet leadership’ securing Mideast peace

Senior UK politician praises UAE’s ‘quiet leadership’ securing Mideast peace

A senior British politician has praised the UAE for its role in “discreetly shaping peace and stability” in the Middle East and North Africa.
Tobias Ellwood, a former government minister and chair of the UK Defence Select Committee, said Britain needs to work closely with the UAE, calling it a “loyal ally” and “a worthy member of the UN Security Council.”

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he highlighted the UAE’s “quiet leadership” in a region where “diplomatic momentum has been all but lost, but stability is vital.”

He noted that changing priorities among the world’s major powers means the US risks causing a “vacuum” in the region as it withdraws further from its involvement there.

The UAE, Ellwood said, is doing its bit to responsibly temper that vacuum, engaging in a “mature” approach to politics since it signed the Abraham Accords in 2020 normalizing ties with Israel, playing a “long game” by “working for consensus and good neighbourliness.”

He noted how the UAE has sought to improve trade with Israel, citing a recent deal to reduce 96 percent of all tariffs between the two countries, and how it is seeking to promote religious tolerance, highlighting the recent opening of the Abrahamic House religious center in Abu Dhabi earlier this year.

Ellwood also praised the UAE’s commitment to humanitarian work in the region, writing about its “unprecedented” role in donating huge sums of aid, and persuading the Syrian government to cooperate in alleviating suffering by opening humanitarian corridors after the recent earthquake that struck the country and neighboring Turkiye earlier this year.

“Those bold moves changed the dynamic in the region,” Ellwood said. “And so, last month, after years of frosty relations, the UAE signed a trade deal with Turkey that could double trade to $40 billion in five years.”

As well as improving relations with Israel and Turkiye, Ellwood also touched upon how the UAE is seeking a peaceful path forward with Iran.

“Differences remain strong, but even so the Emiratis have extended a cautious welcome and invited the Iranian president to visit the UAE, which would be the first since 2007,” he said.

“In the absence of any superpower strategy, the UAE appears to be adopting a policy of constructive engagement towards its traditional rivals and foes: Israel, Qatar, Turkey and Iran.

“Slowly and surely, the Emiratis are opening communication, expanding diplomatic and mediation efforts, and avoiding confrontation.”

Ellwood noted the UAE’s leading role in tackling climate change, through its capacity as host of the COP28 Summit later this year, and its $100 billion deal with Washington to pursue clean energy sources worth “100 gigawatts globally by 2035.”

The UK’s relations with the UAE, Ellwood added, have brought significant progress and investment.

“The Emiratis are ploughing hundreds of millions into UK life science investments, all with little fanfare,” he said.

“On Monday, foreign ministers of both countries are meeting to review the progress of the UAE-UK Sovereign Investment Partnership (SIP) which is investing millions in key innovation-led sectors: technology, infrastructure, healthcare and life sciences, and clean and renewable energy,” Ellwood added.

“Normalising relations with Israel, offering a tentative, exploratory hand to Iran, investing in the UK’s future and signing the world’s biggest deal with the US to promote sustainability among nations worst hit by climate change: This is grown-up politics conducted delicately and without seeking approval or spotlight.”
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