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UAE, Saudi Arabia Prefer Diplomacy Over Confrontation With Iran, Says Emirati Minister

File photo - Emirati Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash.
File photo - Emirati Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash says the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia prefer a political approach to their problems with Iran.

Emphasizing continued cooperation between the two Arab countries, Gargash tweeted on August 2 that the two states believe in a political approach rather than confrontation with Iran.

Meanwhile, the UAE official accused Qatar of trying to take political advantage of the meeting between Iranian and UAE coast guard officials which took place on July 30.

Previously, some regional media reported a change in UAE's position regarding Iran. The Anadolu news agency in Turkey had also reported that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of of Dubai has called for a change in the UAE's policy vis-a-vis Iran.

Iran's official news agency IRNA reported that a delegation from the United Arab Emirates Coast Guard met with Iranian counterparts to discuss border security, illegal crossings, fishing rights, and shipping through the Strait of Hormuz.

The meeting between Iran and the UAE coast guard officials was interpreted by some as a sign of change in UAE's policy toward Iran.

The situation in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz has been extremely volatile during recent weeks as Iran has threatened shipping security and downed a U.S. drone in response to U.S. sanctions on its oil exports and international banking.

In another development, while reports from Iran and the rest of the region said the UAE has withdrawn from the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen, Gargash said developments regarding UAE forces' move from Yemen have taken place in coordination with Saudi Arabia.

The UAE as part of the coalition has moved out a large part of its forces from Yemen in late June, giving rise to speculations about its withdrawal from the Saudi-led coalition.

Dubai, one of Iran's leading trading partners in the region and a major hub for exports to Iran has suffered losses as a result of U.S. sanctions on Iran. According to a Reuters report, things have been changing in Dubai's Murshid Bazaar, once frequented by Iranian businessmen. Businesses have closed and properties are up for rent after Iranians abandoned the market.

Also the insecurity in the Persian Gulf as a result of tensions between Iran and the United States have affected business. Four of the alleged Iranian attacks on oil tankers have taken place off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

In the meantime, a policy shift about Iran may have taken place in a wider scale in the region. Saudi Arabia, Iran's vocal critic and arch rival in the region has been mysteriously silent about Tehran during the past month.

During the same period, some Iranian officials including Foreign Minister Zarif have expressed readiness for a rapprochement with Riyadh.

Reuters quoted Zarif as having said on Wednesday July 31 that " Iran is prepared for dialogue if Saudi Arabia is also ready."

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    Behrouz Turani

    Behrouz Turani is a British-Iranian writer and journalist as well as a consultant on Iran's political dynamics and the Iranian media landscape.