X

News & Publications

July 7, 2010

UAE Ambassador speaks before he thinks

“’We cannot live with a nuclear Iran. The United States may be able to live with it, we can’t.”
On Tuesday, the UAE Ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, publicly endorsed military action against Iran if sanctions fail to stop its nuclear program. That’s a bold statement coming from neighboring  Muslim country, and more importantly, a neighbor that conducts $12 billion in trade with Iran.
“I think it’s a cost-benefit analysis,” al-Otaiba said in a public interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion … there will be consequences, there will be a backlash and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country; that is going to happen no matter what.”
What was al-Otaiba thinking when he made that statement? Apparently, his remarks stem from his own personal opinions as the statement was promptly walked back by other UAE officials. Immediately after the statements were made, the UAE Assistant Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Tareq Al-Haidan said “the statements attributed by the Washington Times to the UAE Ambassador to the United States Youssef Al-Otaiba are not precise.” In addition, Al-Haiden said:

“The UAE totally rejects the use of force as a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue and rather calls for a solution through political means that are based on the international legitimacy, transparency as well as the need for working, through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on the right of all states to the peaceful use of nuclear energy”.

The use of force is not the solution, and I am glad that Al-Haidan realizes that. As a diplomat, you cannot just say whatever is on your mind, though . Even discussions held “on the sidelines of an unofficial gathering” will be leaked one way or another, putting diplomatic relations at risk.

Back to top