US-China rivalry forces Arab Gulf states to make impossible choices, UAE’s Anwar Gargash tells World Policy Conference

Special Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s presidential diplomatic adviser and former ​minister of state for foreign affairs, was speaking at the World Policy Conference in Abu Dhabi. (Screenshot)
Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s presidential diplomatic adviser and former ​minister of state for foreign affairs, was speaking at the World Policy Conference in Abu Dhabi. (Screenshot)
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Updated 03 October 2021

US-China rivalry forces Arab Gulf states to make impossible choices, UAE’s Anwar Gargash tells World Policy Conference

Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s presidential diplomatic adviser and former ​minister of state for foreign affairs, was speaking at the World Policy Conference in Abu Dhabi. (Screenshot)
  • China has emerged as a powerful economic player in the region and is the Gulf’s biggest buyer of crude oil
  • China offers lucrative partnerships to Gulf states while the US is a more transparent strategic ally

ABU DHABI: Economic and strategic competition between the US and China is putting immense pressure on the Arab Gulf states, a top Emirati official told delegates on the second day of the 14th World Policy Conference in Abu Dhabi.

Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s presidential diplomatic adviser and former minister of state for foreign affairs, said the geopolitical rivalry is forcing countries in the region to make impossible choices concerning their strategic and business partnerships.

Gargash urged the international community to speak up against such pressure and not to become pawns in a new Cold War. “I think if this message comes across to the Chinese, to the Americans and to others, this will create what I would call a moral collective,” he said on Saturday.

“We’re all worried, very much, by a looming Cold War. That is bad news for all of us because the idea of choosing is problematic in the international system, and I think this is not going to be an easy ride.”

The UAE and other Arab Gulf countries have long been close US allies. However, China has since emerged as a powerful economic player in the region and its thirst for crude oil has made it the Gulf’s biggest buyer, presenting nations such as the UAE with a dilemma.

“This is going to be a big challenge for all of us,” Gargash said. “For us here in the UAE, the United States is our predominant strategic partner but China is our number one or two — with India — economic partner.”

Although the Chinese offer lucrative opportunities for trade and business partnerships, Gargash hinted the UAE considers the Americans a more transparent strategic ally.

“China will continue to be extremely important,” Gargash said. “While America’s direction is something you can glean from various readings and conferences and discussions, understanding China’s direction, I think, is more opaque.”

What began as a trade war over China’s economic policies has since evolved into a clash between differing ideologies, leading to mounting tensions in the South China Sea and schisms between the US and its traditional European allies.

US-China bilateral relations nosedived in 2018 when President Donald Trump imposed punitive tariffs on China. This was followed by restrictions on China’s access to US tech products and foreign investments involving security concerns and by allegations of unfair Chinese commercial practices.

President Joe Biden has since amplified his predecessor’s policies by strengthening anti-China alliances and implementing additional sanctions. Borrowing from the Cold War playbook, Biden has characterized the US-China conflict as “a battle between the utility of democracies in the 21st century and autocracies.”

Analysts believe US-China tensions are driven less by economic realities and more by great power rivalries — exacerbated by mutual mistrust over each other’s strategic aims.

Gargash pointed to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international affairs, arguing it demonstrated the need for greater cooperation rather than confrontation.

“We are really seeing several dimensions to the changes in the international system,” he said. “I think, on the one hand, the pandemic makes it very, very clear that our geostrategic priorities need not only be political … but it can be about other issues.

“It will need from all of us an understanding … that confrontation is not the way forward, and communication is the way forward.

“It doesn’t mean that we will be able to change Iran’s perception of its role in the region, or Turkey’s perception of its role in the region, or how we see the Arab world and how it should come back to a more lively regional system. But at the same time I think we need to also understand that it is extremely important that we avoid confrontations.”


Canada sanctions Iran morality police as protests flare

Canada sanctions Iran morality police as protests flare
Updated 26 September 2022

Canada sanctions Iran morality police as protests flare

Canada sanctions Iran morality police as protests flare
  • “We will implement sanctions on dozens of individuals and entities, including Iran’s so-called morality police,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said

OTTAWA: Canada on Monday announced sanctions against Iranian officials over the Islamic republic’s lethal crackdown on protests driven by the death of a young woman after her arrest by the morality police.
“We will implement sanctions on dozens of individuals and entities, including Iran’s so-called morality police,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference.
“We join our voices, the voices of all Canadians, to the millions of people around the world demanding that the Iranian government listen to their people, end their repression of freedoms and rights and let women and all Iranians live their lives and express themselves peacefully.”


World at ‘critical, dangerous point,’ Syrian FM warns UN General Assembly

World at ‘critical, dangerous point,’ Syrian FM warns UN General Assembly
Updated 26 September 2022

World at ‘critical, dangerous point,’ Syrian FM warns UN General Assembly

World at ‘critical, dangerous point,’ Syrian FM warns UN General Assembly
  • Faisal Mekdad issues strongly worded attack on Western countries over ‘wars of occupation’
  • Attempts to ‘break the will of Syria and isolate it from the world’ have failed

LONDON: The Syrian regime has criticized Western-led interventions in the Middle East, telling the UN General Assembly on Monday that the world is at a “critical, dangerous point.”

Following a strongly worded attack on Western countries, Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad issued an appeal to “meet the challenges of food insecurity, terrorism and climate change together.”

He described Syria’s decade-long conflict as having originated from “attempts by some countries to impose hegemony on others,” condemning decisions to “put a stranglehold on economies”, “flout international law” and wage “wars of occupation.”

The conflict is “ultimately an attempt by the West to maintain control over the world,” he added, warning that the attempt to “break the will of Syria and isolate it from the world” had failed.

Mekdad said Western countries have intervened in the Middle East under the “excuse of spreading democracy and human rights,” adding that terrorist groups labeled “moderates” were “used as tools.”

He claimed that by a deliberate undermining of Syria’s access to medication, food, fuel and basic goods, the country’s people have been punished by the West.

He called for the creation of a multipolar world order, overseen by the UN, to fulfil the organization’s charter and support its purpose.

Mekdad said Israel’s practices had raised tensions and caused instability in the Middle East. He alleged that during the conflict in Syria, Israel had covertly supported terror groups fighting in the country, including Daesh and Al-Nusra Front, in what he described as an “act of military aggression.”

Israel’s activities in the Golan Heights — which it captured from Syria in 1967 and illegally annexed in 1981 — are also cause for concern, he added, warning that Damascus will seek to “hold it accountable for these crimes.”

Syria continues to support Palestine becoming a full-fledged UN member, Mekdad said.

He highlighted some of the steps that the regime is making toward ending the conflict in Syria, arguing that it had consistently called for “national and local reconciliation in order to promote national unity.”

In that regard, Mekdad said the regime had signed 21 amnesty orders, “enabling Syrians to return to normal lives” and ending fighting around the country.

But he warned that as a result of Western “economic terrorism,” Syria has lost an estimated $107 billion in oil and gas revenues since 2011, leading to further economic issues.

Syria will continue to seek compensation for the lost revenues, Mekdad said, adding that the regime is “doing everything possible” to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground.

Turning to international issues, he said Syria supports the “right of Russia to secure its national territory,” adding: “Russia is defending not only itself, but justice and the right of humanity to reject unipolar hegemony.”

He also spoke of Syria’s support for China, arguing that Beijing has the right to protect its national sovereignty against “Western attempts” to influence events in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang.


Amnesty petition calls for UN investigation into Iran regime’s ‘serious crimes’ in protest crackdown

Amnesty petition calls for UN investigation into Iran regime’s ‘serious crimes’ in protest crackdown
Updated 26 September 2022

Amnesty petition calls for UN investigation into Iran regime’s ‘serious crimes’ in protest crackdown

Amnesty petition calls for UN investigation into Iran regime’s ‘serious crimes’ in protest crackdown
  • Also accused Iranian security forces of using unlawful force against protesters
  • Organization slammed regime for shutting down access to the internet

LONDON: Amnesty International launched a petition Monday calling for an independent UN investigation into the “serious crimes” being committed by the Iranian regime during its crackdown on widespread protests in the country.

Amnesty called on member states in the UN Human Rights Council to help combat the deadly suppression of protests raging across Iran following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died on Sept. 13 after being arrested by the country’s morality police.The organization said a “crisis of impunity” had “emboldened” the regime in Iran to kill and torture protesting Iranians without fear of reprisals in recent years.

Authorities in Tehran have been getting away with “grave crimes” over the past few years without any consequences, a statement from the organization added.

Amnesty accused the Iranian regime of routinely subjecting women and girls to “arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment” for not complying with Iran’s “abusive, degrading and discriminatory compulsory veiling laws.”

They also accused the Iranian security forces of using unlawful force against protesters, including the firing of live ammunition and metal pellets at close range, misuse of tear gas and water cannons as well as excessive and severe beatings with batons.

Dozens of men, women and children have been killed in the crackdown on protesters, with hundreds more seriously injured, according to Amnesty, who also highlighted the case of two men who were blinded in one or both eyes.

The organization slammed the Iranian regime for shutting down access to the internet in an attempt to “hide their crimes,” while its statement also said many of those injured do not seek hospital treatment for fear of arrest or further reprisals.


Iran indicts 14 in top nuclear scientist’s assassination

Iran indicts 14 in top nuclear scientist’s assassination
Updated 26 September 2022

Iran indicts 14 in top nuclear scientist’s assassination

Iran indicts 14 in top nuclear scientist’s assassination
  • Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in attack on his car outside Tehran that Iran has blamed on Israel

TEHRAN: Iran has pressed charges against 14 people for their alleged role in the November 2020 assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, local media reported Sunday.
Fakhrizadeh, who had been under US sanctions for his role in Iran’s nuclear program, was killed in an attack on his car outside Tehran that the Islamic republic has blamed on Israel.
Tehran’s chief prosecutor Ali Salehi announced that “14 people were indicted” in the case, according to Tasnim news agency, without naming them.
The charges against them include “corruption on earth,” aiding “espionage for the Zionist regime,” “colluding with the purpose of disrupting national security” and “actions against national security,” Salehi said.
Iran claims that the bombing and shooting attack that killed Fakhrizadeh was carried out by a remote-controlled machine gun.
Israel has never commented on the killing. In 2018, former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged that Fakhrizadeh had led Iran’s efforts to build an atomic bomb, a claim Iran has always vehemently denied.


Japan’s foreign minister Hayashi meets Egyptian foreign affairs minister

Japan’s foreign minister Hayashi meets Egyptian foreign affairs minister
Updated 26 September 2022

Japan’s foreign minister Hayashi meets Egyptian foreign affairs minister

Japan’s foreign minister Hayashi meets Egyptian foreign affairs minister

DUBAI: HAYASHI Yoshimasa, minister of foreign affairs of Japan, and Sameh Shoukry, minister of foreign affairs of Egypt, held a foreign ministers meeting discussing efforts to tackle climate change, methods of controlling the international food crisis, and further enhancing the bilateral relations between both countries on Sept. 22.

The COP27, a conference discussing the current climate situation, will be taking place in Egypt and HAYASHI expressed his hope to collaborate with the government of Egypt to extend efforts to hinder climate change. 

The Japanese minister argued that the root of the existing global food crisis stems from the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Both ministers agreed that cooperation between Japan and Egypt is mandatory to stop the current international food crisis as well as sustaining and enhancing the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Minister Shoukry extended his condolences on the passing of the former prime minister and in return HAYASHI expressed his appreciation to the Egyptian president for sending a presidential envoy to attend the state funeral.

The two ministers shared a mutual agreement that both nations are vital partners for each other and encouraged further enhancement of the bilateral relationship. 

Originally published in Arab News Japan