The United Arab Emirates urged President-elect Donald Trump Sunday to consider increasing the United States’ involvement in the Middle East. A top UAE official said Washington’s influence in the region “remains more important than ever.”
Speaking at an event organized by the Emirates Policy Centre in Abu Dhabi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash commented that the outcome of the U.S. presidential election showed “politics can be highly unpredictable.” He added that while the Trump administration’s foreign policy pertaining to the Middle East is still unclear, “we can be certain that U.S. engagement remains stable and crucial in the region.”
“We live in an increasingly multipolar world but Washington’s role remains important in the Middle East and the eight past years have seen U.S. disengagement,” he reportedly said at the third edition of the Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate. “It is essential that there is an overarching strategy rather than isolated positions toward regional issues. In short, America’s engagement is positive and its withdrawal and disengagement is counterproductive.”
He admitted, however, that stability in the Middle East “cannot rest on American engagement alone” and needs intervention from the likes of Russia, India, China and the European Union.
“But solving regional problems also requires an active role for the U.N. [United Nations]. This means that the international community has to reverse the failures of recent years, by providing a more activist and effective role,” Gargash said.
He called President Barack Obama’s decision to limit involvement in the region’s affairs “a recipe for unremitting chaos and violence,” blaming U.S. disengagement for the worsening situations in Syria and Libya.
Trump, throughout his campaign, has said he would rather focus on defeating the Islamic State terrorist group, also called ISIS, in Syria than helping the country’s rebel groups in their war against President Bashar Assad.
“What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria,” Trump told Reuters in October. “You’re not fighting Syria any more, you’re fighting Syria, Russia and Iran, all right? Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk. Assad is secondary, to me, to ISIS.”