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UAE won't remain idle under shadow of Iran's threat, Gargash says

Gargash said we need to look beyond sect in order to reduce Iran's influence in Iraq and help reinforce its Arab identity

Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
From left: Moderator Faisal Bin Huraiz; Abdullah Bishara, former diplomat president of theDiplomatic Centre for Strategic Studies, Kuwait; Dr Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, Dr Ayed Al Mannaand Salem Al Yami during a panel discussion at the 4th Abu Dhabi Strategy Debate.

Abu Dhabi: The UAE will not remain idle under the shadow of Iran's threat, Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, told the 4th Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate being held in the capital yesterday (Sunday).

"In recent days, we have seen Iranian-made ballistic missiles fired by Iran's proxy Houthi militia towards the Saudi capital, Riyadh. This is a serious escalation and one that undermines Iranian claims about the defensive nature of its missile programme. The UAE will not remain idle under the shadow of such threat," Gargash said in his keynote speech before the two-day conference organised by the Emirates Policy Centre.

"The targeting of Riyadh with ballistic missiles only serves to underline the severe threat that Houthi insurgency represents. We cannot stand idly while a new Hezbollah is being built with the support of Iranian ideology and money."

Dr Gargash said this is why the new US administration's robust commitment to addressing the Iranian challenge is extremely welcome development.

"Indeed, the UAE strongly endorses the approach towards Iran that was set out recently by President Trump.

  There is now a real opportunity for Arabs to work with the international community against Iranian interference.'

 - Dr Anwar Gargash | UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs 

Dr Gargash confirmed we now need to work on building a wider international consensus behind this approach. "But I have no doubt that the international community will increasingly come to realise the grave risks associated with Iran's expansionist behavior," Gargash said.

Gargash said we need to look beyond sect in order to reduce Iran's influence in Iraq and help reinforce its Arab identity, so it can once again take its rightful place at the heart of the community of Arab nations.

“All of this means that there is now a real opportunity for Arab countries to work hand in hand with the international community to consistently push back against Iranian interference,” Gargash said.

Gargash, however, said it is deeply regrettable that this is the lens through which we are compelled to deal with Iran. “But given its current behavior, we are simply not yet in a position to be able to speak about de-escalation or dialogue.”

Gargash noted important advances have been made in the fight against extremism and terrorism, including Al Qaeda in Yemen thanks to the brave work of the Arab coalition and the UAE-backed Yemeni forces

Gargash reiterated the battle against extremism is far from won, and it is a long-term challenge that will take a generation or more to defeat.

“But recent regional developments have the potential to provide opportunities for political progress in Yemen, Libya, Syria and even in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Certainly, the drying up of Qatari funds and mischief has helped to create improved  conditions for progress on these and other issues,” Gargash said.

He stressed a genuine political [process remains the only viable route to resolving the crisis, as a military victory is unobtainable for any side in Syria.

Arab world needs to move to driver’s seat

Dr Gargash said the Arab world needs to move to the driver’s seat and determine our own future course.

“It is only by adopting a strategy focused primarily on achieving stability, that we will be able to alter the current trajectory. In the UAE’s view, the success of this strategy depends on there being a strong and developing Saudi Arabia, and a stable, robust Egypt. So now is the time for moderate Arab countries to come together to build momentum around a common, forward-looking agenda. One that values stability but that at the same time recognizes the urgent need to improve the lot of our fellow Arabs throughout the region,” Gargash said.