The campaign against Islamist
Fifty-eight years old, a wife, Sheikha Salama, passionate about art, with nine children, MbZ governs the emirate from when his elder brother Khalifa bin Zayed has had a heart attack and disappeared from the public scene. Under his leadership, the united arab Emirates have undertaken a series of military campaigns, from Syria to Yemen up to Libya. There are in the game business interests, in Libya, for example, on the ports, but the political reason, especially "to counter the rise of political Islam.
After the arab spring, for MbZ the main threat they have become to the muslim brotherhood and the islamist parties close to them, right after that, we are training shiite supported by Iran," says Christopher Davidson, a former professor of Middle East Politics at the Duhram University, who has lived many years in Abu Dhabi, and has written numerous books on the monarchies of the Gulf. For Abu Dhabi do not seem to be differences for example between Ennhada, the moderate islamist party of tunisia, and the Isis: "We are, but he is convinced that islamic organizations are more moderate are a point of departure towards extremism".
With Saudi Arabia, Bin Salman, in 2013 MbZ has contributed to the overthrow of the only elected president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, an expression of the muslim Brothers, and to install a military regime with general Al Sisi has become even more brutal than Mubarak. In the same Libya, which opened the contradictions in his front in support of general Haftar there are also militias and the islamist, the same happens in Yemen.
A state of surveillance
But the "struggle against islamic fundamentalism" is served at the sheikh also as a justification to build up inside of the United a state of surveillance, sophisticated, where political opponents are prosecuted and imprisoned, and where also the citizens of foreign Countries are monitored, as documented by Human Rights Watch and several investigations of Reuters which revealed the existence of the program cyberspionaggio Project Raven.
"By the old regime based on consent, in which the sheikhs ruled but with the support of their family and circle of closest collaborators, the united arab Emirates have switched to a regime which is more autocratic and authoritarian," says Davidson.
In foreign policy, the military commitment of Abu Dhabi is based mainly on the relationship with the United States, from military supplies to the covenants on the ground, for example in Syria, where the air force of MbZ was the first allied american air campaign against the Isis. A few years ago, the former minister of Defense, general Jim Mattis, described Abu Dhabi as a "little Sparta". "A small country with one of the armies the most powerful in the region," says William Hartung, an expert on Defense specialist on military programs of the Pentagon.
The Little Sparta
The Emirates have a population of less than 10 million inhabitants, and an army with 60 thousand operating. In ten years, says Hartung, America has seen a MbZ more than $ 27 billion in arms, including combat aircraft, F-16, helicopters of attack, armored vehicles, bombs and missiles, the first provider in the emirate (more than 60% of the orders), followed by France and Russia.
In the Uae there are over 5 thousand american military and the bases in uae are used by the United States for numerous operations in the region. MbZ has been generous in Washington, d.c., by financing its influence with a river of money: according to the Center for scores on Foreign policy's Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative < / strong> , only in 2018 the Uae have spent over $ 20 million in lobbying, companies based in the Uae have paid over 600 thousand dollars of contributions to political. In 2014, the former chief of the central command of the american for the Middle East, general Anthony Zinni, has described it thus: "the One with the Uae is the stronger relationship that the United States has today in the arab world".
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