By Mike Scruggs- On August 13, The Trump Administration announced a major diplomatic peace accord in the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) became the third Arab nation, besides Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, to formally normalize diplomatic relations with Israel. The Abraham Accord was achieved as part of a major effort by the U.S. State Department under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Not every nation in the Middle East, however, was happy with the news. It is certainly not good news for Iran, which continually proclaims its intention to destroy Israel and is seeking to advance its political and military influence over Arab nations.
Although Turkey was the first Middle Eastern country to recognize Israel in 1949, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded with open displeasure. Under Erdogan, Turkey, which is over 99 percent Muslim, has become increasingly radical and a far cry from the moderate and secularist reputation of its early NATO years.
Erdogan sympathizes with the Palestinian radicals and even the Muslim Brotherhood spawned Hamas terrorist group, which would like to see the end of Israel. Erdogan frequently refers to Israel as a “terrorist state.” Some fear Erdogan has neo-Ottoman Empire expansionist ambitions, and Turkey has been aggressively meddling in Libya’s instability.
Turkey has a Kurdish minority of 15 to 20 percent, which is sometimes politically troublesome. The Kurds, which are concentrated in eastern Turkey, have an ethnic and language identity with Kurds in northern Syria and Iraq. The Kurds dream of their own nation of Kurdistan. This has often caused Turkey to act aggressively towards Syria and Iraq as well as their own Kurdish minority. Turkish hostility to Greece and the Greek Diaspora is legendary.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a nation of just under 10 million people—about the same population as North Carolina or Sweden—located near the northeastern end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf. It shares a maritime border with Iran to the north and Qatar on the Arabian Peninsula to its northeast. Its official language is Arabic.
Although it is a small country geographically, the UAE’s oil reserves are the sixth largest in the world, and its natural gas reserves are the seventh largest in the world. Despite this, the UAE’s economy is the most diversified in the Persian Gulf. This may owe to its zero personal income tax rate and mere five percent corporate tax. Its largest city, Dubai, with over 3.3 million people is a global economic center and gleaming beauty of glass and steel on the Gulf.
The capital of Abu Dhabi has 1.8 million people and is equally impressive in its modern architecture as is its third largest city of Sharjah with 1.3 million people. The climate is tropical but high temperatures can reach 113 F. on the coastal plain in July and August. The UAE per capita parity adjusted GDP of $70,441 is the seventh highest in the world.
The UAE is a federation of seven hereditary tribal monarchies called sheikhdoms. Sheikhdoms are a consultative form of monarchy. The meaning of Sheikh is best translated elder or leader. The ruling Federal Supreme Council is made up of the seven Sheikhs, which elect the President and Prime Minister. The current President is Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The Prime Minister is Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. Beyond these are 22 appointed members of the Council of Ministers. There is also a legislative Federal National Council of 40 members of which 20 are elected and 20 are appointed from the Emirates every four years.
Only about 12 percent of the UAE population are Emirati Arabs, and citizenship is confined to them. Most of the rest have immigrated to the UAE because of jobs and economic opportunities in oil, gas, finance, shipbuilding, and technology. About 38 percent of the population is Indian, and 27 percent is Pakistani. Other nationalities most common are Bangladeshi at 13 percent, Egyptian 7 percent, and Filipino 6 percent. Beyond these many others make for a very diverse population. The UAE was essentially a British Protectorate until 1971, and about 100,000 British expatriates still live there. The UAE is still a large supplier to British Petroleum. At least 50,000 Americans live in the UAE.
The official religion of UAE is Islam. Sharia Law courts have exclusive jurisdiction over family law cases and many criminal cases. The penalty for blasphemy is death for citizens and deportation for non-citizens. Homosexuality is illegal, and expatriates can be deported for kissing in public. Despite these evidences of Sharia Law, there is tolerance for other religions in the UAE so long as it does not include any form of evangelism. Only 76 percent of the population is Muslim. Of that 76 percent, 98 percent are Sunni Muslims. Thirteen percent of the UAE population is Christian, and there are 31 churches throughout the country. Seven percent is Hindu, and the rest, about 4 percent is mostly Buddhist. Despite Sharia Law restrictions, the UAE is probably the most comfortable predominantly Muslim country for Americans and other Western nationalities to work and do business.
Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis has called the UAE “Little Sparta.” They have a well trained and officered military of 100,000 with 90,000 reserves. Their Air Force of 4,000 personnel and over 500 aircraft includes 80 F-16 Falcon fighter-bombers and 60 French Mirage 2000-9 fighters that have assisted U.S air strikes on terrorists in Syria and Iraq. They also have numerous attack helicopters and support aircraft, including 8 giant American-made C-17 transports. Their Army has over 400 tanks and over 8,000 other combat vehicles. The UAE navy consists of about 2,000 personnel and over 40 patrol boats. They also have a well trained Special Forces capability.
Many UAE officers have graduated from military academies in the UK (Sandhurst) and other countries.
UAE leaders have a guarded attitude toward the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) because of the Brotherhood’s global ambitions to control the political leadership of Muslim nations. This was the real reason for the war in Syria and the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. The Muslim Brotherhood also has a plan to overthrow the U.S. government, which I have outlined in several previous articles. The Obama Administration unfortunately encouraged the MB in the Middle East, and Obama’s Middle Eastern policies strongly resembled MB strategies.
The UAE’s near neighbor, Qatar has a smaller population, 2.8 million, but has many similar national characteristics. They have in common Arab language and Sunni Muslim religion. Only 12 percent of the population are native Qataris, and only 68 percent of the population is Muslim. Christians and Hindus make up 14 percent each. The per capita parity adjusted GDP is the highest in the world at $138,910. It was essentially a British protectorate from 1916 to 1971. But its Emir, Tamim bin Hamad, is an absolute monarch and supports and harbors the Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2017, this caused the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain to sever diplomatic relations with Qatar. Qatar’s Constitution is Sharia Law. Qatar hosts a joint British-American airbase, Al-Udaid. Yet Qatar is a strategic ally of Communist China and has a mutual defense treaty with Iran. Qatar has also become a strong ally of Turkey and supports Hamas and Al-Qaeda operations in Syria. Turkey had 3,000 troops in Qatar in 2017. Qatar has been of no help to U.S counter-intelligence in the Middle East and has, in fact, become a prime source of terrorist financing.
According to Swedish sources, Qatar has become the eleventh largest arms importer in the world and is active in supporting MB insurgencies around the Middle East. Despite its small population, Qatar has an active Armed Forces of 165,000 and 140,000 reserves. Its Air force includes 126 aircraft, of which 27 are French fighters and 4 are U.S. C-17 transports. It has at least 200 German-made tanks. Qatar was one of the largest contributors to the Clinton Foundation and has become the largest source of financing for Islamic mosques in the U.S.
The diplomatic treaty between the UAE and Israel is a major advance toward peace, but three of the most powerful sustainers of Islamic radicalism—Iran, Turkey, and Qatar–are howling and showing their teeth. Despite their ranting, Trump and Pompeo were right, and the U.S. is right to support Israel and keep advancing the borders and prospects of peace.
The most interesting thing may be to see how deep CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and their media and internet allies can bury or distort the good news and hopeful prospects. But let them howl. “Wisdom is proved right by all her children” (Luke 7:35), and “a tree is known by its fruits” (Matthew 7:16).