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Obama's 'withdrawal in Middle East was counter-productive': UAE

The minister made the comments in a meeting in Abu Dhabi [AFP]

Date of publication: 13 November, 2016

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The UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs urged Donald Trump to be more involved in the Middle East, describing Obama's policy in the region as weak and counter-productive.
The United States' engagement in the Middle East is "positive and its withdrawal and disengagement is counterproductive," a senior United Arab Emirates official said on Sunday, in controversial remarks that urge further US interference in the turmoil-hit region.

The UAE urged US president-elect Donald Trump to increase his country's involvement in the Middle East and adopt an "overarching strategy" towards developments in the area, to counter eight years of President Barak Obama's "weak" policy.

Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash maintained that "Washington's weight and influence remains more important than ever".

"Following eight years of weakened American engagement in the region, which many feel has created a disconcerting vacuum, it looks like we will have to wait a little longer until the contours of president-elect Trump's approach" becomes clearer, long-time Washington ally, Gargash told politicians at an event organised by the Emirates Policy Centre in Abu Dhabi.

"It is essential that there is an overarching strategy rather than isolated positions towards regional issues," he said in remarks published on the official WAM news agency.

"In short, America's engagement is positive and its withdrawal and disengagement is counterproductive," he added.

Barack Obama's administration’s policy in withdrawing from the region has been "a recipe for unremitting chaos and violence", he said, pointing to crises across the region, mainly Iraq, Syria and Libya, which have spiralled out of control and fuelled extremism.

Breaking "this cycle of discord and instability requires difficult decisions, collective action and a continuous search for constructive solutions," Gargash said.

Under Obama, relations between Washington and Gulf Arab states turned frosty with US overtures towards their regional rival Iran.

Washington and other major powers reached an agreement, which took effect in January, to lift international sanctions on Iran in exchange for guarantees that it would not pursue a nuclear weapons capability.

Obama's reluctance to become involved in Syria's deadly war and other regional conflicts that have turned increasingly bloody and seen extremists such as the Islamic State group grow, has also angered Washington's historic allies in the Gulf. 

Despite this, the US is still heavily involved in conflicts across the region. Washington is leading a global coalition offensive against the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, while conducting several drone strikes against AQAP in Yemen.

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