DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The rulers of the United Arab Emirates on Saturday unanimously appointed Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as President of an authoritarian nation in Abu Dhabi, signaling unity and stability in the country, which is hosting Western armies.
Sheikh Mohammed, 61, was expected to ascend the throne on Friday after his half-brother and UAE president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, died at the age of 73. This marks the third such transfer of power in the United States. Since becoming an independent country in 1971, the Allies of the Seven Sheikhs have elected a President.
Under Sheikh Mohammed, who has been the nation’s true leader since Sheikh Khalifa suffered a stroke in 2014, the United Arab Emirates joined the Saudi-led war in Yemen and sought to project military power over a wide area.
But since the end of the coronavirus epidemic, Sheikh Mohammed and the wider United Arab Emirates have withdrawn from the war and sought diplomatic restoration from rivals seeking to restore their methods. The UAE has also given diplomatic recognition to Israel, which Sheikh Mohammed has long suspected in Iran. However, relations with the United States have been strained in recent years – Washington is expected to resolve the issue with Vice President Kamal Harris, who will lead a delegation to Abu Dhabi on Monday.
The state-run WAM news agency described the vote in Abu Dhabi’s Al-Musharraf Palace as unanimous among leaders of hereditary sheikhs, including the city of Dubai, including its skyscraper.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, said: “Taking over the presidency represents a new historical epoch and a new birth.” “We look forward to consolidating global sovereignty and accelerating development to advance the emirate.”
Only one president died in the country’s history before Friday, when Sheikh Khalifa took power in his hands and Sheikh Mohammed’s father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, after his death in 2004. Sheikh Zayed, whose name mainly adorns the highway connecting the emirate, is seen all over the country and is still considered the father of the country’s founders.
The UAE is holding a three-day mourning period overall, which will shut down companies across the country and shut down performances in honor of Sheikh Khalifa. All electronic billboards featured pictures of the late Sheikh in Dubai on Friday night when the flag was hoisted at half-mast. A wide period of 40 days of mourning will go away.
The Sultan of Oman was among the first leaders to meet with Sheikh Muhammad on Saturday night. Others are expected on Sunday, including French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Harris will also meet Sheikh Mohammed.
Sheikh Mohammed has been the de facto president of the UAE since Sheikh Khalifa disappeared from public view in 2014 following a stroke.
Known by the short name MbZ, Sheikh Mohammed forged a relationship with the West that proved valuable to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates that owns billions of dollars in assets from its oil and gas fields. A 2004 U.S. diplomatic mission, published by WikiLeaks, described him as “charismatic, smart and very comfortable in the West.” He hosted then-President George W. Bush in his desert in 2008, visiting with Bedouin tents and hawks.
The country has about 3,500 U.S. troops, most of them based in Abu Dhabi’s al-Dhafra air base, from which drones and warplanes have flown in anti-Islamic State missions in Iraq and Syria. Dubai is also the busiest port of the US Navy abroad. Both France and South Korea had a military presence here.
Sheikh Mohammed was educated at the British Military Academy in Sandhurst and was a helicopter pilot. His first military approach led the UAE to join Saudi Arabia in their bloody, years-long war in Yemen that continues today. Sheikh Mohammed had a close relationship with Mohammed bin Salman, the heir to the throne of eastern Saudi Arabia. However, the UAE has withdrawn its troops from Yemen.
Sheikh Mohammed, a longtime skeptic of the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, may have organized a campaign targeting Islamists in the UAE after the 2011 Arab Spring and called on the West to take a tougher line on concerns over Tehran’s nuclear program and support for paramilitary forces. Groups across the region. The recognition of Israel by the UAE in 2020 serves as the opening of new trade and tourism, as well as the protection of relations with Iran.
However, since the coronavirus epidemic in the UAE under Sheikh Mohammed, they have been trying to rebuild relations with Iran and Turkey, which support Islamists in the region. A quarter of Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, have boycotted Qatar over a diplomatic dispute over support for Islamists, although relations between Abu Dhabi and Doha remain strained.
Anwar Gargash, a senior diplomat at the UAE, said: “The smooth transfer of power in the UAE reflects the moderation of institutional work and the level of governance and their stability.”
But in recent years, tensions between Sheikh Mohammed and the United States have escalated, guaranteeing security in the long-running Persian Gulf. The UAE was corrupted by then-President Barack Obama and the world powers when they reached a nuclear deal with Iran in 2015. The tumultuous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 under President Joe Biden has added to concerns about U.S. withdrawal from the region.
Sheikh Mohammed was involved in a report by then-President Donald Trump and Special Attorney Robert Mueller on Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election. The chairman of the 2017 Trump Inauguration Committee was arrested in 2021 on charges of secret conspiracy to influence U.S. policy on behalf of the UAE.
The planned U.S. sale of advanced UAE F-35 fighter jets appears to have been partially suspended due to U.S. concerns over the UAE’s relationship with China. Meanwhile, during the Moscow war with Ukraine, the UAE warned against secession from Russia.
But Biden said in a warm statement on Saturday that he wanted to “congratulate my longtime friend” for his “choice.”
“The UAE is an important partner of the United States,” Biden said. “I look forward to working with Sheikh Mohammed to build this remarkable foundation for further strengthening the relationship between our country and our people.”