One of the things that most impressed me when I was in the UAE this past week was the sensible, informed perspective that every single government official I met had. There was no anti-Israel jingoism among government elites, though i can’t say the same about people in the private sector. UAE elites are very shrewd realists about their situation — and they are clearly becoming the Hong Kong or Singapore of the Middle East.
There was instead a belief that the entire region was at a cross-roads where either an incredible stormy and politically convulsive future faced them or alternatively, that a new “equilibrium of interests” could be reached that would take guts and brilliant statecraft.
That said, there is something to keep in mind when Americans pontificate about what Arab regimes should or should not do.
They have a much more serious terrorism problem than we do.
A senior national security official in the UAE reported to me that they have uncovered 28 plots inside their country — mostly al Qaeda and a handful Hezbollah.
This was surpising to me as there has been little to no reporting about the UAE’s problems with domestic terrorism — and I had never heard of Hezbollah activities anywhere outside of Lebanon.
This revelation was not to hype a threat. It was a comment shared to give those of us in a small meeting with this official some sense of the overlapping complexities in the region today. This person preferred a quiet approach to solving these problems and dealing with the political agendas driving the terror groups. This person’s approach was as sensible as one could imagine — and nothing like we have seen out of Washington.
— Steve Clemons