Mar 29, 2022: According to a report by Reuters, U.S Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will meet with the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates in Morocco on Tuesday to resolve differences over the oil, Iran and Ukraine crises.
During his visit, Blinken will also hold talks with Moroccan and Algerian officials in the wake of growing regional tensions over the Western Sahara conflict. Blinken’s visit is aimed at improving relations with Arab allies who have seen the United States reduce its commitment to security in the region.
In his trip to the Middle East, the U.S Secretary of State did not stop at the Gulf monarchies, who are one of Washington’s longest-standing partners.
Blinken is however expected to meet with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Tuesday to emphasize the importance of both the UAE and Saudi Arabia to Washington.
U.S officials say they will discuss the Yemen war, Iran, global energy markets and the UAE’s relationship with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The United States says it has invested heavily in the region, although its long-term focus is on China and now on the Ukraine crisis.
The U.S wants its Arab allies to take a stronger stand against Russia by voting with the United States at the United Nations, joining Western sanctions or sending security aid to Ukraine. The UAE did not take part in the UN Security Council vote on Ukraine last month, and Morocco did not take part in the General Assembly vote.
Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have significant energy ties with Russia. The Gulf states have been frustrated for years over what they see as US inaction in countering Iran’s role in the region, but their concerns have grown since Biden became president.
They are also about the impact of a potential new nuclear deal with Iran and annoyed that Washington has ended its support for their war in Yemen, put additional checks on weapons sales to the Gulf and also criticized the human rights records of the monarchies.
In connection with the missile strikes by the Tehran-backed Houthi group in Yemen, Blinken is expected to reassure Sheikh Mohammed of Washington’s commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
He could also try to overcome Gulf resistance to the US call for increased oil production to offset rising crude oil prices, which has pushed up global inflation.
Earlier, the State Department said it saw Morocco’s plan for autonomy in the Western Sahara as a serious, credible and realistic way to meet the aspirations of the people of the disputed area.
At the end of 2020, the United States recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara, as part of an agreement that also included Rabat expanding ties with Israel, angering Algeria, which supports the territory’s Polisario Front independence movement.
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