Close allies, ambivalent partners

The role of the UAE in US Gulf policy

Authored by: Christian Koch

Handbook of US-Middle East Relations

Print publication date:  September  2009
Online publication date:  May  2014

Print ISBN: 9781857434996
eBook ISBN: 9780203859377
Adobe ISBN:


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The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a federation of seven sheikhdoms in the lower Gulf region, has begun to play an increasingly important role within the framework of US policy in the Gulf, a position it is likely to maintain as the region overall struggles to balance regional and external interests and move toward more stable security arrangements. Despite some disagreements over various policy approaches, the UAE and the US enjoy a strong and mutually beneficial relationship. While the US sees the UAE as an important moderate Arab country that supports the general interests of the US with its balanced policies, the UAE views America as a critical strategic ally and a key component to guarantee a level of stability in the region. The UAE places great importance on promoting a positive and substantive relationship with the US and on trying to find ways whereby relations can continue to be deepened and strengthened further. As far as the US is concerned, while the UAE, as the country with the fifth largest petroleum reserves in the world (after Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait), 1 is a critical player on world energy markets and a key element for stable energy supplies, in recent years it has attained, in addition, a level of more general political and strategic significance.

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