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    Analysis of Near East Policy from the scholars and associates of THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE

    Number Nine Hundred and Fifteen November 12, 2004



    By Simon Henderson


    The November 2 death of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan—president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and ruler of its largest emirate, Abu Dhabi—had been widely anticipated, and the succession of his eldest son, Khalifa, to both positions has been smooth and faster than expected. Yet, filling the gap left by the man whom local newspapers describe as “visionary†and “sage of the Arab world†is likely to challenge both the al-Nahyan family and its relations with the ruling families in the other emirates.


    Continuing Zayed’s Legacy

    Zayed’s triumph was to take his emirate—which consisted of just a few mud houses before oil was discovered in 1958—into the twenty-first century while avoiding the turbulence that has plagued the Persian Gulf region in recent decades. By creating the UAE in 1971, Zayed protected Abu Dhabi (of which he had become emir in 1966) and the different tribes in other member emirates from the regional power vacuum created by the withdrawal of the longstanding British military presence. With control over nearly a tenth of the world’s oil reserves (mostly concentrated in Abu Dhabi) and an indigenous population of less than one million, Zayed had the wealth to buy success. The future of the UAE will depend on his sons’ ability to maintain family unity and convince the other emirates that it is worthwhile to remain in the union.

    Some of the omens are not good. According to the BBC, Khalifa, the new ruler, “lacks his father’s charisma.†For many years after being named crown prince in 1969, he was referred to by expatriates as “the clown prince.†In his fifties and having already suffered at least one stroke, Khalifa faces a challenge from his younger brother Muhammad, whom Zayed named deputy crown prince in 2003. A few weeks after that appointment (which included the stated assumption that Muhammad would become crown prince when Khalifa became ruler), Muhammad was named deputy chairman of the Abu Dhabi executive council. Both appointments had the effect of sidelining Zayed’s second son, Sultan, the deputy prime minister, whose government appointments followed a dissolute youth.

    Muhammad is the oldest son of Zayed’s fourth wife, Fatima. She is the only wife who holds official status in the UAE government, with the title “President’s wife†and the role of chairwoman of the UAE General Women’s Union. Fatima’s other sons include Hamdan, the effective foreign minister, Hazza, the head of the State Security Organization, and Abdullah, the minister of information, making her family a formidable sub-group.


    Opposition from Dubai

    Within the UAE, the main rival to Abu Dhabi’s continued authority is the emirate of Dubai. With comparatively few oil reserves, Dubai has been forced to develop itself as a commercial center, expanding a port that has historically served as a major trading link with Iran. The emirate also has significant industrial assets, including an aluminum smelter and the Jebel Ali industrial zone and port (the latter much visited by the U.S. Navy).

    Dubai’s rivalry with Abu Dhabi has sometimes been intense. In the late 1970s, when Zayed made a military appointment that Dubai’s al-Maktoum family thought belonged to them, military units took up opposing positions. Nowadays, Abu Dhabi seems envious of Dubai’s entrepreneurship. A new seven-star hotel is nearing completion in Abu Dhabi, only the second such rated hotel in the world; the other is in Dubai.


    U.S.-UAE Relations

    In recent years, the United States has developed good relations with the UAE. In 2000, for example, Washington announced the sale of eighty F-16 fighters worth $6.5 billion to the emirates. The relationship has not always been good, however. In 1973, the UAE was the first oil exporter to announce an embargo on sales to the United States. Abu Dhabi’s ruling family and state institutions were also major shareholders in the criminal Bank of Credit and Commerce International, and were slow to take action when reports of bad management began to emerge in the 1980s and 1990s. Moreover, as one of the provisions of the F-16 sale, Washington had to grant a waiver of sanctions to excuse Dubai’s earlier independent purchase of Scud missiles from North Korea. In 2003, relations were strained by the activities of a local think tank, the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-up, which hosted anti-Semitic speakers and used anti-Semitic language on its website. After U.S. government protests, the think tank was closed. And earlier this year, the Harvard Divinity School returned a $2.5 million donation given by Zayed for a professorial chair because of protests regarding his links to anti-Semitism.


    Prospects and Problems

    The future course of politics in the UAE is likely to be opaque, with any differences between personalities sorted out behind closed doors. The ruler and deputy ruler of Dubai (brothers Maktoum and Hamdan bin Rashid) care little for administration; by family agreement, their brother Muhammad effectively runs the emirate. Many observers expect that his namesake in Abu Dhabi will emerge in an equivalent role; indeed, they hope he does because the two Muhammads are said to like each other and work well together.

    But a small example of what might go wrong occurred in June 2003, when the ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, the third largest emirate, suddenly switched the title of crown prince from one son to another. The ruler had been increasingly concerned by his eldest son’s antipathy toward U.S. intervention in Iraq and his daughter-in-law’s support for women’s rights. The demotion provoked street protests, including gunfire, around the walls of the ruler’s palace by supporters of the deposed prince; military units from Abu Dhabi had to intervene to restore order (for more on this incident, see PolicyWatch no. 769).

    In the worst case, the member emirates of the UAE could become dissatisfied with Abu Dhabi and seek alternative leadership or a breakup of the union. There is also a danger that Iran, which occupies three islands that the UAE considers to be its territory, might take advantage of any fragility. Accordingly, Washington may need to use its good offices to ensure cool thinking in the wake of Zayed’s death. Sending Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to the UAE on November 5 was a good first step.


    Simon Henderson is a London-based associate of The Washington Institute and author of the Institute Policy Paper The New Pillar: Conservative Arab Gulf States and U.S. Strategy (2003).

  2. The sheikhdom are ahead of their game.Do you know that America is currently looking elsewhere towards seeking oil reserve outside the Arab world?. Do you know that were it not the distrust by the America public of anti-capitalist enviromental movement,America would have adapted long time ago alcohol fuel like ethanol, made from corn or biomas.Power: in America it is hidden until you talk to a black person in the street of Atlanta.But in the Arab world power is discriminate and naked in the eyes of the public.You can not change their rules neither can you blame them for that but you could just live by their rules.

  3. Quote, "Why not work for an Islamic Organization, instead of working voluntarily with Christian Organization"


    Now this is what i call ANT (AUTOMATIC NEGATIVE THOUGHT). Why do i have to care about there religious or their coporate affilation when all they doing is helping a poor people.Direct me to any islamic organization that is helping them, i doubt if it exist! so please brush off your negative thoughts or form an IslAMIC ORGANIZATION that will help them.

  4. There is a christian organization in my college town that works primarily with the Somali Bantus.They bring them to the mosque every friday,may God reward them for that.I am personally thinking about joining their volunteer program this winter break in their onsite refugee place.They are happy to see me(being the only somali they see for a week) every friday.They are very decent, religious, and ambtious people just like every one else.One time i strucked a conversation with one of them, what he said to me when i asked him about how they end up in America, had alot of wisdom in it.The old guy said to me, "when god plans for you something, no one can block, not even the government of Somalia". They had no one to file a refugee status for them,they didn't knew anyone in America.I told the guy the sky is the limit man, work hard, save your money, send the kids to school,and put all the somali prejudice behind you!.Let help them much as we can, it is a sadaqa nomads.

  5. in spite of their struggle for social justice for their province the NFD people have been muted by their leaders.Marginalized and oppresed as they are, somalia will never be able to solve their problems .This emotional attachment to Somalia has fade away long time ago.NFD needs leaders (not the old) who can be particularly vociferous in their demands for better schools and health system.In order to pressure the kenyan government to respond more affirmatively to their development, the NFD people need to distance themselves from the Clan based ideology that has engulfed Somalia.Now i know my later claim looked like iam blaming clan as the culprit but no that is not what i intended.The resident of the region as a whole need to unite and focus on their development as a region.Somalia and NFD live in a different space One that history can not reconcile at the present state of somalia.

  6. Nice list,i have only read reading Lolita in Tehran.Legend of Zu ,It is a group of seven "Girls" Who read and talked about books like Lolita and the great Gatsby in Nafisi's house in the Islamic republic of Iran .The book is divided in to four sections,"lolitta","Gatsby"' "James" and "Austen". "Gatsby and James takes back to Nafisi years of teaching career and through the revolution of the Islamic republic of Iran.She also details how Iran has turned in to anti-western and anti-woman.I wish i can tell you more but got to run it is FINALS week.

  7. Nice list,i have only read reading Lolita in Tehran.Legend of Zu ,It is a group of seven "Girls" Who read and talked about books like Lolita and the great Gatsby in Nafisi's house in the Islamic republic of Iran .The book is divided in to four sections,"lolitta","Gatsby"' "James" and "Austen". "Gatsby and James takes back to Nafisi years of teaching career and through the revolution of the Islamic republic of Iran.She also details how Iran has turned in to anti-western and anti-woman.I wish i can tell you more but got to run it is FINALS week.

  8. First let me congragualate you on your industrious undertaking of studying science.We need people like you to protect our health, water and air qualities of our lives back in the motherland.There are broad courses of science you can take at your school.Consult your academic advisors in your school on what courses to take.As for the choice between pharmacy and medicine it depends on what you want.They are both rewarding careers.Don't do something because your parents or peers presured you to do so.Follow your intuition and Insha-Allah the gates will be open for you.

  9. OG GIRL, They is no cock-fight here only a dialectical challenge and replies.We are all on the same page only on a different rational persuasion of our ideas.My due respect to all of you people( Sheherazade, Mutakkalam,and Ngonge), keep up the healthy arguments.

  10. "Only the members of the "SOL Book Group" can recommend or suggest a book to read".

    Does this suppose to mean no contribution from the rest of the SOL community?.If so why make the group sound like inherently untenable?Can you unmask for us the real intention behind this "elite" group.There is nothing odd about supposing to form such a group but why eliminate the happy campers like me.

  11. May Allah give Sabr to both families,

    Families need to appeal to the hearts and brains of this youngsters who want to imitate the gospel of American materialism and "coolness".I know its not in our culture to say something after the death of humanbeing but pardon me.

    May Allah give strength and patience to the families involved.

  12. Much as i avoid to engage in political section debate,i can not avoid to condemn this horible atrocities done to Samsam.Every story has two side and every side has it's say.The reason iam hesitant to beleive all the story i read on the links is that there could be an ample opportunity for bias, either conscious or unconcious.If this is true that S/land CIA has commited this heinous crime then we MUST all condemn.

  13. What is to be morally responsible? To be morally responsible for an action is to be worthy of some reaction whether being praise or blameworthy.Philosophers like Aristotle argued that the ones who qualify to be the moral agent is the ones who posses the capacity for a decision.

    Let me see Sarah morally obligated to donate that blood? No, why? because she has the freedom to choose what she wants as long as she is not under the influence of outside force.

    loved philosophy only if i can write as good as philosophers!

  14. caveman says, "Punishment for us is divorce and family destruction, guys make your testing ground for her and her family, trust me if the lady says to you brother I don’t want any “kaafir†type wedding, then ask what her family wants if they conquer with her, sxb you got good woman and good in-laws, ee yay kaa fakanin taas. To the contrary if she wants Anne of Brittany type wedding sxb run for your life, I know most guys who do it mainly to get it over it and get that marriage life but trust me. Its your life too sxb and u gona regret not too distance future and all the expenses you went through".

    Let me first congratulate you on your deeply compeling vision of the fate of Somali wedding.I agree with most of thing you stated.What i disagree with you is your singleness of shifting the blame to the girls alone.

  15. In the world of today the contact of men and their relation to each other is defined by communication.I will love to share with you guys a couple of tips that i have grasped from a lecture that was presided over by DR Oppenheimer, director of the sackler institute of graduate biomedical sciences,Newyork university school of medicine.

    How to prepare for graduate school in the science.

    1. college preparation

    freshman and sophomore years:

    -take a broad spectrum of introductory

    courses (including labs) biology,

    chemistry, math, computer science

    -take courses that help devp reading

    skills,writting, and public speaking

    -get involved in research!.

    2.junior year:

    -take advance level courses

    -take liberal art courses

    -begin preparing for GRE and MCAT

    -expand your reseach skills:programs

    like Howard Hughes,McNair

    3. Senior year

    -submit application early

    -if possible visit schools

    -take advanced research courses



    -Do you fill comfortable with the program and structure

    -is there flexibility within the program

    -are there adquate university support system

    2. Financial consideration

    - can you afford it(determine total cost involved,including housing and food)

    -available type of financial aid(loans fllowship, research and assitantship)


    -Strong undergraduate perfomance as indicated by strength of course load, GRE and GPA

    -superior preparation in the disciplene

    -student who can clearly express themselves.

    -reseach experience.


    - word of mouth

    -internet sources (somaliaonline student talk section)


    Assalam Aleikum next time it will be the interview,that is if there are some people who want it.

    Keep me in your prayer please and i will keep you in my prayers.