Israel Worried UAE Playing ‘Qatari Game’ by Moving Closer to Iran

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. (REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo)

Israel is very worried about the prospect of the United Arab Emirates and Iran forming closer ties as a delegation of senior Emirati officials is slated to depart for Tehran soon to discuss bolstering bilateral ties.

The delegation was coordination at a recent meeting between Anwar Gargash, a senior advisor to Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and head of the Iranian delegation to the nuclear talks in Vienna, Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Bakri Kani.

Speaking to the media, Gargash said, “I hope that [the delegation’s visit] will take place as soon as possible, and all our friends are aware of that. Our goal is to turn over a new page [between the UAE and Iran].”

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan during their meeting in Ankara, Turkey Nov. 24. (Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS)

Gargash spoke after Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed visited Damascus, an ally of Tehran, and after bin Zayed held a phone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian.

This latest development is of great concern to Israel, a senior diplomatic official told Israel Hayom.

“The Emirates are on their way to playing the Qatari game,” the official said, referring to the good ties Qatar enjoys with the West, including the U.S., as well as the excellent relations between Qatar and Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, and a number of radical Islamic elements.

The Israeli official attributed the Emiratis’ outreach to Iran to what he called American weakness.

“The Abraham Accords were born because the U.S. projected that it was strong and could be depended upon. When that’s not the situation, all sides draw conclusions,” he said.

Former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made similar remarks last week.

“They are starting to move in Iran’s direction because they feel that there is weakness here. They feel that there was a change in Washington and a change in Yerushalayim. The breakthrough between the Gulf states and Israel is in danger,” Netanyahu warned.

Meanwhile, President Yitzchak Herzog spoke by telephone on Friday with Emirati Crown Prince bin Zayed. Herzog’s office said that the conversation, the first between Herzog and the crown prince, was warm and friendly and addressed a number of bilateral and regional issues.

Herzog congratulated bin Zahed on the 50th anniversary of the formation of the UAE. Bin Zayed thanked Herzog and said he expected him to visit the Emirates. Herzog thanked him for the invitation and told bin Zayed how positive the responses in Israel and the region had been to the implementation of the Abraham Accords.

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