Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan becomes UAE’s president

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Rulers within the United Arab Emirates on Saturday unanimously appointed Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan because the autocratic country’s president, signaling each team spirit and balance on this key energy-rich nation that hosts Western militaries.

The ascension of Sheikh Mohammed, 61, were anticipated after the loss of life Friday of his half-brother and the UAE’s president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on the age of 73. The transition of energy marks handiest the 3rd time this U.S.-allied country of 7 sheikhdoms has decided on a president since turning into an impartial country in 1971.

Under Sheikh Mohammed, who has been the country’s de facto chief since Sheikh Khalifa suffered a stroke in 2014, the UAE had attempted to undertaking energy militarily around the wider area because it joined a Saudi-led struggle in Yemen.

But for the reason that lockdowns of the coronavirus pandemic, Sheikh Mohammed and the broader UAE has attempted to recalibrate its method by way of in large part pulling out of the struggle and looking for diplomatic detentes with opponents. The UAE additionally diplomatically identified Israel, which stocks Sheikh Mohammed’s longstanding suspicion of Iran. However, ties to the U.S. have strained in recent times — one thing Washington hopes to deal with with Vice President Kamala Harris main a delegation Monday to Abu Dhabi.

The state-run WAM information company described the vote at Al-Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi as unanimous a number of the leaders of the rustic’s hereditarily dominated sheikhdoms, which incorporates the skyscraper-studded town of Dubai.

“His assumption of the responsibility of the presidency represents a new historical era and a new birth,” said Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. “We look forward to the acceleration of development aimed at consolidating the global sovereignty and pioneering of the Emirates.”

There were just one loss of life of a president earlier than Friday within the nation’s historical past, which noticed Sheikh Khalifa take over for each his and Sheikh Mohammed’s father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, after his loss of life in 2004. Sheikh Zayed, whose identify graces a big freeway linking the Emirates and whose face seems in all places within the country, extensively stays considered as the rustic’s founding father.

The UAE as a complete is gazing a three-day mourning duration, which is able to see companies close around the nation and performances halted in Sheikh Khalifa’s honor. Electronic billboards all confirmed the overdue sheikh’s symbol in Dubai on Friday evening as flags flew at half-staff. A much broader mourning duration of 40 days will move on past that.

Oman’s sultan was once a number of the first leaders to talk over with Sheikh Mohammed on Saturday evening. Others are anticipated within the coming days, together with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday. Harris additionally will meet with Sheikh Mohammed.

Sheikh Mohammed were serving because the UAE’s de facto president since a 2014 stroke noticed Sheikh Khalifa disappear from public view.

Known by way of the acronym MbZ, Sheikh Mohammed cultivated ties with the West that proved precious for Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE that instructions tens of billions of bucks in wealth price range from its oil and fuel deposits. A U.S. diplomatic cable from 2004 launched by way of WikiLeaks referred to him as “charismatic, savvy and very comfortable in the West.” He hosted then-President George W. Bush in 2008 at his wilderness property, a talk over with whole with Bedouin tents and falcons.

The nation hosts some 3,500 U.S. troops, many at Abu Dhabi’s Al-Dhafra Air Base, from the place drones and fighter jets flew missions preventing the Islamic State team in Iraq and Syria. Dubai is also the U.S. Navy’s busiest port of name in a foreign country. Both France and South Korea additionally maintained an army presence right here.

Sheikh Mohammed educated on the British navy academy at Sandhurst and is a helicopter pilot. His military-first method noticed the UAE sign up for Saudi Arabia of their bloody, yearslong struggle in Yemen that also rages to at the present time. Sheikh Mohammed has had an in depth courting with neighboring Saudi Arabia’s personal upstart crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. However, the Emirates has in large part withdrawn its troops from Yemen.

Sheikh Mohammed additionally lengthy has been suspicious of each the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, most likely organizing a marketing campaign concentrated on Islamists within the UAE after the 2011 Arab Spring and urging the West to take a tougher line towards Tehran over issues about its nuclear program and its strengthen of paramilitary teams all the way through the area. The UAE’s reputation of Israel in 2020, whilst opening new industry and tourism, additionally serves as a hedge in coping with Iran.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, alternatively, the UAE beneath Sheikh Mohammed has sought to rehabilitate ties to Iran and Turkey, which has sponsored Islamists within the area. A quartet of Arab countries together with the UAE additionally dropped their boycott of Qatar over a diplomatic dispute relating to its strengthen of Islamists, regardless that members of the family stay icy between Abu Dhabi and Doha.

“The smooth transition of power in the UAE reflects the sobriety of institutional work and the advanced level of governance mechanisms and their stability,” mentioned Anwar Gargash, a senior Emirati diplomat.

But lines have emerged in recent times between Sheikh Mohammed and the U.S., lengthy a guarantor of safety within the wider Persian Gulf. Then-President Barack Obama and international powers achieving a nuclear care for Iran in 2015 soured the Emirates. The chaotic American withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 beneath President Joe Biden worsened issues concerning the U.S.’s pullback from the area.

Sheikh Mohammed discovered himself entangled in particular recommend Robert Mueller’s file on then-President Donald Trump and Russian interference in America’s 2016 election. The chair of Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee was once arrested in 2021 on fees alleging he secretly conspired to steer U.S. coverage to profit the United Arab Emirates.

A deliberate U.S. sale of complex F-35 fighter jets to the UAE additionally seems stalled partially over American issues concerning the Emirates’ courting with China. Meanwhile, the UAE has been cautious to not alienate Russia as Moscow wages struggle on Ukraine.

But Biden introduced a heat commentary Saturday pronouncing he sought after to “congratulate my longtime friend” on “his election.”

“The UAE is an essential partner of the United States,” Biden mentioned. “I look forward to working with Sheikh Mohammed to build from this extraordinary foundation to further strengthen the bonds between our countries and peoples.”


Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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