One method to evaluate the influence of a specific country is to delete it from the map and imagine the world without it. I will now eliminate two states, Saudi Arabia and the UAE which have a strong alliance and which play different roles on several fronts.
The first front is confronting extremism. If Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not exist, extremist powers will completely dominate the area as there are no regional powers that are capable of combating them or eliminating their project. It’s also certain that armed terrorist organizations will be more powerful compared with their current torn state. Universities will inevitably be controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood and their affiliates. Dominating the educational field is actually their top priority. The media will be in such a hysterical state, like what happened during the era of former Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi when extremists managed television channels and newspapers and presented shows. In brief, the scene will be bleak andthe future will be dark with no hope in the horizon.
So why do we say so?
It’s because both, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have combated extremism as an ideology and terrorism in its form as armed groups. Saudi Arabia has fiercely confronted terror groups until it crushed them. It’s been also confronting extremist rhetoric and those who promote it. Let’s recall Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s words about combating extremist thoughts now and immediately. Extremism did in fact decrease in Saudi Arabia. Those who mobilize people and incite them, and specifically those who used their Twitter accounts to sow divisions, were deterred. Saudi Arabia has for months now lived in an unprecedented state of tolerance and optimism.
The same applies to the UAE which does not allow any extremist rhetoric flourish. The Emirati soil is thus infertile if anyone wants to plant extremist ideas. The country simply does not welcome preachers of hate and strife. What characterizes the Saudi-Emirati alliance in the war against extremism is that it’s real, particularly that they’re both combatting extremism internally first. It’s well-known that many countries exploit war on terrorism to embellish their image and market themselves when in fact they are sealing secret deals and agreements with armed and extremist groups either to be spared of their evils or to work with them towards achieving mutual interests.
In a world where Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not exist, Taliban, al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood will dominate. Therefore, we completely understand extremists’ organized and insulting campaigns against Saudi Arabia and the UAE and their attempts to destabilize their alliance by spreading rumors that there are disputes. This alliance has simply destroyed their lost paradise. Meanwhile, these extremists praise Qatar because it adopts their dangerous project. Dangerous details of this project were further exposed after the boycott decision by the anti-terror quartet. Retired terrorists and retired and emerging preachers all rose to defend Doha which has been funding them and housing them for years.
If Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not exist, extremist powers will completely dominate the area as there are no regional powers that are capable of combating them or eliminating their project.Mamdouh AlMuhaini
Significance of Saudi-Emirati power
Fortunately, the Saudi-Emirati power, which is engaged in a noble war on behalf of everyone against extremist organizations, possesses financial and military capabilities as well strong political will. If you take a look at the map, you will find weak and exhausted states that are incapable of confronting anyone, states that have adopted a defensive position, states that are small and with zero capabilities and others that fund terrorism. There is no exaggeration here when I say “on behalf of everyone.” There are no borders to terrorism and if strong parties cannot confront it, it will easily swallow weak countries and create chaos in faraway countries like Europe and America.
Let’s go back 80 years so the comparison is clearer. Imagine the world without Britain and America during World War II. It would have been easier on Nazism to expand and fully control Europe. However, the American-British alliance buried Nazism as a regime and as an ideology during that immortal historical phase.
The Saudi-Emirati alliance is also cooperating on another significant front which is fighting Iranian interferences that do not only threaten the region but the entire world. The burden has increased following the US troops’ withdrawal during President Barack Obama’s term. It’s easy to imagine how influential Iran will be in a world that does not have Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The power of Saudi-Emirati deterrence is the only power capable of curbing Iranian greed. Without these two countries, borders will be of no value and leaders of Iranian Shiite militias will violate them, just like Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, did at the Lebanese borders.
It’s important to remind that the Saudi-Emirati alliance protects the international order which insists on maintaining stability and which was actually based on the 1648 Peace of Westphalia that was approved following the Thirty Years’ War. The Peace of Westphalia prohibits invading other countries and interfering in their affairs. The aim is to avoid wars and bloodshed, create peace and prosperity and enhance the economy. This is how the world developed, wars decreased and the modern world, as we know it today, flourished. Iran and Shiite and Sunni terrorist militias want to destroy this order in the Middle East so the region will resemble Afghanistan or Somalia where the state is absent or failed and the logic of gangs reigns. The Saudi-Emirati alliance is the only one capable of preventing this scenario from happening and without them we will live in such a completely different and bleak world. Most people think that enjoying their freedom to travel, trade and enjoy life is an inevitable result but there are actually kind political powers that created this reality and continuously protects it. Without these powers, this reality will quickly collapse and we will go backwards.
The third front is economy or the way of life in general. The Saudi-Emirati alliance adopts a project towards a better future and a modern way of living where the culture of tolerance and moderation reigns and life in terms of entertainment, education and work is better. Life in Saudi Arabia has changed during a short period of time as it’s witnessing massive developmental projects. The UAE has become the best destination for ambitious Arabs and for foreigners who desire to live in a civilized healthy environment where there are the best schools, businesses, streets and markets. This project is the only means towards modernization and towards catching up with the developed world. Without Saudi Arabia and the UAE, there will only be the projects of death presented by al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain.