In the second part of his series on Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), blogger Abdullah Noorudeen argues that the UAE is also involved in the repression of Muslims in the West.
The thread that connects MBZ and the belligerency of Israel also connects with the repressive policies used against the Muslim diaspora in the West thanks to Israel’s allies who are the neoconservatives.
Indeed, in 2017, the UAE’s ambassador to the U.S., Yusuf Otaiba, was selling both Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to the neocon Project for the New American Century signatory Elliot Abrams as the solution to terrorism.
In the same year, hacked emails showed that the UAE was growing its relationship with the pro-Israel, neoconservative think tank the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). FDD’s positions have followed those of the Likud party and its former leader, Netanyahu, “not just on the Iran deal, but on the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians and the desirability of a two-state solution.”
A year later, AP News reported that the UAE had effectively bankrolled a conference held by the FDD that attacked Qatar at a time when the Gulf states were pressuring Qatar to align with them and their faithless dealings.
Propaganda against the Brotherhood and Qatar
A similar situation was occurring in the UK. The UAE was behind the 2015/6 Muslim Brotherhood witch-hunt “review,” which leveraged the counter-extremism infrastructure in a bid to declare the group “extremists.”
Around that time, it was also revealed that the UAE paid a London-based public relations firm, connected to an associate of David Cameron, millions of pounds to lead attacks in the UK against Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other opponents of the Gulf state. Those connected to the PR firm, who were hell-bent on demonising the Brotherhood, were passing information on to the journalist Andrew Gilligan who duly regurgitated it through his articles.
A year later, the UAE funded an anti-Qatar “UAE-AIPAC Conference” that aimed to prove “Qatar’s sponsorship of terrorism groups.” In addition to three pro-Israeli politicians, on the panel was Founder and Executive Director of the pro-Israeli, neoconservative Henry Jackson Society, Alan Mendoza.
Moreover, the relations between neocons and MBZ is reciprocal. In 2017, hacked emails showed scheduled meetings between the FDD and UAE officials, including MBZ, to discuss UAE policies on Iran and associated policies including, “political, economic, military, intelligence, and cyber tools.”
Countering Violent Extremism Agenda
Not surprisingly, these connections have also emerged in the repressive world of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE).
The UAE has been at the forefront, alongside the UK, in globally promoting the ideology-centred CVE agenda through the Global Counterterrorism Forum on Countering Violent Extremism, Hedayah Center for CVE and the Sawab Centre. These hubs have been influenced by the London-based, pro-Israeli, neoconservative Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD).
The interconnected nature between the UK, UAE, CVE, and ISD is seen in the example of the Regional CVE Coordinator in the UK and a Senior Advisor to the UK Government’s Prevent strategy, Will Baldet. Baldet is an ISD fellow, who, writing in the Conservative Home, lauded the UAE’s ideology-focused CVE efforts:
“I attended the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) in Abu Dhabi… its host, the Hedayah Centre based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is arguably the first concerted effort by the global Muslim community to face up to the deeper risks posed by Islamism and recognise its distinction from terrorism.”
The agenda to drive CVE globally is also observable through the UAE’s 2016 endorsement of the highly questionable UN Resolution to Prevent Violent Extremism. Again, focussing on ideology, Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s permanent representative to the UN, said that the initiative should be a blueprint for coordinating efforts to “combat extremism.”
This was in synchrony with Israel’s more emphatic statements on the UN Resolution which have been longstanding since the very inception of the War on Terror.
This was followed a year later by MBZ’s protégé in Saudi, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). In line with his Vision 2030 project to promote “moderate Islam,” MBS inaugurated The Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology (Etidal) in Riyadh alongside then U.S. President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
The project was picked up by the UK-based Henry Jackson Society, with its researcher Najah Al-Otaibi praising the Vision 2030 initiative as “important” and calling on the UK to “deepen its ties” with the Saudis and Gulf states on counterterrorism in civil society.
The “moderate Islam”/bad Islam” dichotomy is a narrative that allows for invasive, pre-criminal state intervention whilst eschewing scrutiny of state actions and political factors in the assessment of political violence. This is, of course, convenient for the likes of MBZ, MBS, the US and Israel. Making Islam the problem shifts the attention away from tyranny, repression, and occupation.
One does not need to have the qualifications of the President (Abdullah bin Bayyah)), or indeed the Vice President (Hamza Yusuf) of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, to comprehend the UAE’s and MBZ’s treachery against the Ummah.
MBZ’s destructive hand against Muslims is thoroughly manifest through the neoconservative agendas to repress Islam and Muslims and foster a deformed Islam. More widely, MBZ’s fingerprints are all over Bashar Al-Assad’s brutal crackdown in Syria, Sisi’s murderous coup, the brutal war in Yemen, and the rejuvenation of Marine Le Pen’s far-right party in France.
This only adds mountains of salt to the widening wound inflicted on the hearts of 1.8 billion Muslims that is the betrayal of Masjid Al-Aqṣā and the Palestinians. Through collusions with Israel and the neoconservatives, the Zionist state, which is now expanding its Dimona nuclear facility in the Negev desert, has been reassured to the point that is feels it can freely and repeatedly desecrate Masjid Al-Aqṣā, whilst mocking the Muslim Ummah.
Despite the continuing Al-Aqṣā attacks, the normalisation continues. Israel-based i24News television network is opening an office in Dubai to ensure a more thorough diffusion of its hasbara in the Middle East. And Israel’s foreign minister Yair Lapid has visited the UAE to inaugurate the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate in Dubai.
In MBZ’s world, who cares if the Al-Aqṣā compound continues to be stormed, its entrances allegedly sprayed with sewage water, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) insulted by Jewish settlers.
These recurrent events, however, are meant to show us who really needs to be the subject of the Ummah’s attention, protest, and action. The turmoil emanating from the epicentre that is Al-Aqṣā has revealed the Ibn al-‘Alqamī of our time: Mohammed bin Zayed.
Abdullah Noorudeen runs the Coolness of Hind blog. This is part 2 of his series on MBZ.