The United Arab Emirates has no interest in “choosing sides” between global powers despite its strategic partnership with the United States, a senior Emirati diplomat said on Monday.
The comments by Anwar Gargash, a senior advisor to the UAE’s president, come as Washington is at odds with Russia over the invasion of Ukraine and with Saudi Arabia over OPEC+ cuts in oil production.
“The UAE has no interest in choosing sides between great powers,” Gargash told experts and analysts at the Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate conference, without naming any countries.
“We will not under any circumstances sacrifice our sovereignty.”
The UAE is a key player in the 13-nation OPEC oil cartel which, with its 10 allies headed by Russia, angered Washington by cutting production by two million barrels a day from November, adding renewed upward pressure on crude prices.
The decision sparked a swift rebuke from the administration of President Joe Biden, which had hoped for lower prices ahead of midterm elections in the US and accused Riyadh of knowingly boosting Russian revenues during its war with Ukraine.
The UAE, which has improved economic and political ties with the Kremlin despite attempts by the US and Europe to suffocate Russia’s economy, insisted the output cut was not a political jab at the US.
Gargash said his country, a rising regional powerhouse, welcomes “constructive and collaborative engagement” with world powers other than the US to promote security and stability in the region.
The UAE, is not “dependent on just one or two countries for both our economic prosperity and our security”, said Gargash, who formerly served as the minister of state for foreign affairs.
“Trade relations increasingly look to the East while our primary security and investment relations (are) in the West,” he added, explaining that the “situation may evolve over time”.
The US has long been seen as a key protector of the rich Gulf monarchies in the conflict-wracked Middle East.
The UAE currently hosts some 5,000 US military personnel at Al Dhafra Air Base and US warships at the Jebel Ali port in Dubai.
On Saturday, the Washington Post said that US intelligence officials have compiled a classified report detailing “extensive efforts” by the UAE to manipulate the American political system.
The UAE’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, said he is “proud of the UAE’s influence and good standing in the US”, according to the newspaper.
Gargash insisted that Abu Dhabi’s “primary strategic security relationship remains unequivocally with the United States”, but called for clearer commitments from American partners.
“It is vital that we find a way to ensure that we can rely on this relationship for decades to come, through clear… commitments,” he said.