Saudi Arabia and UAE launch new economic and military alliance

Saudi Arabia and UAE launch new economic and military alliance

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downloadSimeon Kerr 4 HOURS AGO The United Arab Emirates has launched an economic and military partnership with Saudi Arabia, further isolating neighbouring Qatar as the Gulf Cooperation Council’s worst crisis in decades deepens. The UAE’s president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Sultan Al Nahyan announced a “joint cooperation committee” to coordinate in “all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields…in the interest of the two countries”, in a statement late on Monday. The Gulf’s two largest powers are binding themselves together more closely ahead of a crunch GCC summit in Kuwait, the first meeting of the six-member bloc since Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain in June launched a trade and travel embargo against fellow member Qatar, accusing Doha of sponsoring terrorism. Qatar, which denied the claims, has said it is willing to discuss an end to the dispute, which has turned western allies against one another, but Saudi Arabia and the UAE appear to be in no mood for compromise, insisting that Doha merely changes its ways. The crisis has driven the GCC to the brink of collapse as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and seek to isolate Doha, which has had to turn to Turkey, Iran and Oman to sustain imports. Kuwait, which has been mediating without success, is hosting the GCC heads of state meeting on Tuesday. Qatar’s emir is scheduled to attend the meeting, though diplomats say there is as yet no confirmation of the seniority of the Saudi and Emirati representatives. The GCC was formed in 1981 to promote security and economic cooperation among the six Arab Gulf states in the face of regional threats from the Iran-Iraq war. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, the economic and military powerhouses of the Arab Gulf states, have become increasingly aligned in recent years, seeking to limit Iranian influence in the Middle East and challenge the rise of political Islam, which they say has been aided by Qatar. The Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen has been led by a combination of Saudi air power and Emirati ground forces in coordination with local allies. The powerful crown princes of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed, respectively, have formed a close working relationship.

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