Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – In the West Asia, the balance is changing. Saudi Arabia against the United Arab Emirates, in contrast to its past moves, has begun to maintain close and warm contact with Turkey. In particular, Saudi Arabia, which has begun to separate from the UAE from the beginning of 2020, seems to prefer to restore relations with Turkey, which have been strained for some time.
The signal of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) divergence in regional policies is growing stronger every day. Riyadh, in particular, wants to follow a different path in the politics of Yemen, Palestine, Qatar and Turkey. The UAE insists on an embargo on Qatar, while the Saudi administration signals that the embargo will end soon. Saudi Arabia is emphasizing relations with Turkey, while the UAE is cooperating with Israel and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has been a regional alliance in recent years, appears to have begun to diverge on important issues from the beginning of 2020. It seems that the desire of the Saudi Arabian administration to play a more balanced and constructive role in regional policies, as well as the desire to put an end to the perception that the UAE is almost directing Saudi Arabia, has played a role in this. The relationship between Saudi Arabia and UAE seems to be heading towards a crossroads in relations with Qatar, Israel and Turkey, especially Yemen. Especially in Yemen, it seems that the strategy of the two countries has completely diverged by 2020, and the UAE has adopted a separatist policy in the country.
The United Arab Emirates appears to be diverging from Saudi Arabia’s goals, especially in its policy in Yemen in the first months of 2020. The UAE appears to have begun to implement a separatist agenda on the Southern Transitional Council, particularly the strategic island of Socotra in Yemen, and has taken steps to weaken the power of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government. With this step, the United Arab Emirates appears to have left Riyadh alone in its intervention policy, which has lasted for 5 years and caused humanitarian drama in Yemen, and has led Saudi Arabia to a strategic stalemate.
The issue of relations with Israel also looks like a veiled issue of regional leadership and competition for the two countries. It seems that the UAE has undermined the “Arab plan” that Saudi Arabia has taken the lead on the Palestinian issue with the “betrayal agreement” step it took with Israel in August, thus shaking up Saudi Arabia’s leadership position among Arab countries. The UAE is trying to push the legitimacy of the Saud administration to the peoples of the region into a troubled position, while increasing tensions between some Arab countries and the Arab public with the current regimes.
Saudi Arabia has been forced by the United Arab Emirates to move into another stalemate on the Palestinian issue, after Yemen, and face the United States. In particular, after the UAE signed with Israel, Saudi Arabia faced intense pressure from US. In contrast, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly reiterated in recent months that it will stick to its own proposal, the “Arab Plan”, and will not normalize relations with Israel until a just solution to the Palestinian issue is achieved. Finally, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his country is not looking at normalization until the Palestinian issue is resolved, reflected in US media.
The difference of opinion between the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia also occurs in the embargo against Qatar. It is worth noting that the United Arab Emirates has been insisting on the continuation of the embargo, which has been ongoing since June 2017, while Saudi Arabia recently announced that the embargo will end soon. Finally, in the Financial Times, It was claimed that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would soon end the embargo on Qatar as a message of goodwill to the administration of President-elect Joe Biden in the United States.
In the face of the UAE’s close relations with Israel, Saudi Arabia seems to have shifted its preference to restore relations with Turkey, which have been strained for some time. While the United Arab Emirates preferred to approach Turkey with countries such as Israel and Greece, Saudi Arabia did not prefer this orientation. On the contrary, Saudi Arabia has taken several steps that emphasize relations with Turkey. The first step in this direction came after the earthquake in Izmir, when King Salman bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia issued a message of condolences and ordered help. Immediately followed by a phone call between King Salman and President Erdogan ahead of the G20 Leaders ‘ Summit hosted by Saudi Arabia in November.
Immediately after the bilateral meeting, Saud Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud’s statement that they have good and excellent relations with Turkey was perceived as an important sign of Saudi Arabia’s separation from the United Arab Emirates in regional policy. Immediately after this message, the news that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with his Saud counterpart at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Nigeria and that the meeting took place in a very friendly environment was reflected in the media.