DUBAI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates, though a prominent foe of Iran in the Middle East’s power struggles, has tempered its reaction to attacks on oil tankers off its coast in an effort to protect its reputation as a safe and stable business hub.
While its close ally Saudi Arabia unleashed a barrage of tweets accusing their mutual enemy of ordering drone strikes on its oil installations on Tuesday, the UAE held off blaming anyone for Sunday’s attacks pending an investigation.
Abu - Dhabi - Restraint - De-escalation - Situation
Abu Dhabi pledged restraint and de-escalation during what it called a “difficult situation” caused by Iranian behavior in the region.
Iran has distanced itself from the attack, which no-one has claimed. Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis said they carried out the drone strike on Saudi oil pumping stations.
Divergent - Approach - Heavyweights - Complexities - Iran
The divergent approach by two crude-exporting heavyweights illustrates the complexities of dealing with Iran, which they see as a destabilizing force in the region.
Both have lobbied the United States to isolate Tehran, and the two spearhead a military coalition backing Yemen’s internationally recognized government against the Houthis.
Economy - Reputation - Others - Reliability - UAE
“Sometimes you need to be diplomatic, we can’t destroy our economy’s reputation. Others are looking to shake our reliability,” said a UAE oil source when asked why the initial UAE statement mentioned commercial vessels and not oil tankers.
It was Saudi Arabia’s energy minister who revealed that two Saudi tankers had been attacked.
Washington - Tehran - Spar - Sanctions - US
As Washington and Tehran spar over sanctions and the U.S. military presence in the region, the UAE is balancing curtailing Iran with protecting its economic interests as the Middle East’s tourism, financial and trading hub.
A Western diplomat said the UAE was taking a guarded approach because it does not want “trouble at its doorstep”.
UAE - Saudi - Arabia - Concern - Iran
“The UAE is far more pragmatic and strategic, and has more to lose. Saudi Arabia is the bigger concern for Iran so there is messaging coming...
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