De Facto U.A.E. Leader Visits Saudi Crown Prince Amid Tensions 

The United Arab Emirates de facto ruler met with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Monday. The two gulf allies have tension over oil policy which has disrupted policy setting by OPEC+. 

OPEC secured an agreement to boost oil supplies after the two Gulf producers reached an understanding. A.P. news states that OPEC and allied nations agreed to raise production limits imposed on five countries next year and boost their production by 2 million barrels per day by the end of 2021. The five countries that will see their limits rise are Iraq, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. 

A disagreement on this ruling by the U.A.E. was headed after wishing to increase its production. Analysts say growing economic competition shows the differences between Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., as Saudi Arabia challenges the U.A.E. 

According to A.P. News, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan have a brother-like bond. Both princes are seen as influential de facto leaders of their countries and the oil industry, with both nations competing for business, regional investment and prominence. 

The meeting in Riyadh had three top officials on each side, and the state-owned Saudi Press Agency did not disclose details about what the meeting entailed. Instead, they said the discussion focused on “the deep-rooted fraternal relations between the two countries,” and “the latest regional and international developments.” 

In late 2017, the two nations announced a partnership, coordinating their military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields. However, emerging tensions have been caused by their political differences regarding the conflict in neighbouring Yemen and relations with Qatar. 

The U.A.E. state-run news agency said the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia explored ways to enhance their relations and strategic cooperation. 

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched a war in Yemen and cut ties with Qatar, with being accused of triggering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Over 80 percent of the population of Yemen (24.1 million people) needs humanitarian aid and protection. 

Saudi’s de facto leader was accused of also starting a diplomatic dispute with Qatar that has divided the Gulf Cooperation Council (G.C.C.). The Crown Prince is also accused of silencing dissenting voices, like Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was killed by Saudi agents at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. 

According to the New York Times, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince is among Washington’s most influential foreign voices. They urge the U.S. to adopt his aggressive approach to the region. Zayed al-Nahyan is one of the richest men in the world, controlling sovereign wealth funds worth $1.3 trillion. He worked to thwart democratic efforts in the Middle East and has jailed dissenters. U.A.E.’s special forces are still active in Yemen and other countries like Libya, Somalia and Egypt’s North Sinai. 

Heightened tensions between the two powerhouse nations of the oil industry could have a devastating impact on the state of Yemen, which is still suffering from the worst humanitarian crisis of the world. At their current form, public institutions that provide healthcare, water, sanitation and education have collapsed. 

Another war, begun out of two powerful adversaries over capitalistic fulfillment, would cause the extinction of the country of Yemen. 

In fact, the continued tensions between the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia are keeping the Yemen conflict alive. It escalated on March 26, 2015, after Yemen president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia and 20 Arab nations intervened in an attempt to drive Iran-backed Houthis out of the capital of Sana’a, according to the Guardian. 

U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia are competing for the upper hand in Yemen South, with the Saudis engaging with the Houthis under the eye of Oman. The Emiratis back Yemen’s new chief of staff, Lieutenant General Sagheer bin Aziz. 

“What gets underestimated is how high the level of antagonism is between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, particularly when it comes to support for Islah,” Abdulghani al-Iryani, an analyst at the Sana’a Center thinktank said. “The personal rapport between [Saudi crown prince] Mohammed bin Salman and [ruler of Abu Dhabi] Mohammed bin Zayed is what keeps the relationship together. If it were left to institutional channels the coalition would collapse.” 


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