The Arab world now stands in need of a compass to point it on its way. The problems of the Arab regional system, plus the negativity of the Arab League, have left a vacuum which regional parties are trying to fill as they expand in the region and interfere in the internal affairs of Arab countries.
With some Arab countries, having become fields for other countries’ political and militant activities, regional security has gone into a predictable decline. All eyes, it seems, are fixed on the important and influential Saudi-Emirati axis.
I believe the two allies’ strategic cooperation has saved the region from danger.Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi
Many agree that the strategic relations between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are evident in two ways: The two countries’ relations with each other as well as their influence in the region.
I believe the two allies’ strategic cooperation has saved the region from danger. This was seen clearly at the time of the June 30 revolution in Egypt when they supported the choice of the masses who came out to protest. Their joint cooperation has also been highly evident in Yemen where the two armies went to the rescue of the Yemeni people. They opposed the expansionist dreams of some powers in the region, sacrificing their martyrs unhesitatingly in an effort to bring legitimacy and stability back to Yemen.
A shared foundation
The two countries have more than political positions or interests in common. Theirs is rather a relationship built on cultural awareness and a shared foundation. On the most basic level, it is worth noting that many Saudis live and work in the UAE and feel completely at home there. Many believe that the two countries can play an important role in protecting the Arab system which has been harshly jolted by the so-called Arab Spring and other changes in the region.
The strategic partnership between the two countries represents a model that has succeeded in creating a cohesive regional bloc, and has also successfully challenged attempts to undermine it.
In Europe, the French-German experience stands as the model for a relationship that led to European unity and the stability of Western Europe during the Cold War.
The BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China — and to a certain extent, South Africa, have positive relations and share economic interests. They are a huge force according to current global economic standards. Other major world blocs show how partnerships can become institutional bodies linking interests and unifying political positions.
A common strategy
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have a shared vision in political ideology and strategies, with neither having any expansionist dreams. Currently and historically, the two countries have played a major mediating role in bringing Arab countries closer to each other by striving for an end to conflicts and tensions.
This political reality based on wise and moderate policies is a good foundation for the alliance, particularly in that the region’s political leaders have a roadmap for bringing stability to the region and focusing on development and prosperity instead of wars. This correct vision makes it important to have a relationship with a high street-credibility and considerable political and economic influence which both countries.
Looking at the development of the Saudi-led coalition in Operation Decisive Storm, one can clearly see how the two countries’ strategic relations formed the core of the alliance. The Saudi-UAE alliance was able to establish a presence on the international political stage.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE foreign minister, stressed the strength of the relationship at the U.N. which is the most important international podium. He stood there and said: “The UAE stands firmly with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in opposition to any Iranian attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Arab states.”
In support of that, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have taken the initiative to protect the Arabs from opportunistic plans which would jeopardize the region’s stability. The Gulf remains one of the richest areas in the world but it lives amid flames which make coordination and cooperation a vital necessity.
The strategic partnership between Saudi Arabia and the UAE can and should lead this union. The Gulf can only be protected by its sons and the blood of its martyrs has shown that to the world.
This article was first published in Arab News on Oct. 7, 2015.
Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi is the editor-in-chief of Sayidaty and al-Jamila magazines. A prominent journalist who worked with Asharq al-Awsat in London and Arab News in KSA, al-Harthi later moved on to establish al-Eqtisadiah newspaper in KSA, in which he rose the position of Editorial Manager. He was appointed editor-in-chief for Arajol magazine in 1997. He won the Gulf Excellence award in 1992. You can follow him on Twitter here: @mfalharthi