MoFAIC receives copy of credentials of new Cuban Ambassador to UAE

Shihab Al Faheem, Assistant Undersecretary for Protocol Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has received a copy of the credentials of Roberto Blanco Domenguiz, newly appointed Ambassador of Cuba to the United Arab Emirates.

The Undersecretary wished the Ambassador of Cuba all success in the performance of his duties and in enhancing bilateral relations and cooperation between the UAE and his country.

The Cuban Ambassador expressed his pleasure at representing his country in the United Arab Emirates, which enjoys a prestigious regional and international position thanks to the visionary policy of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

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Iran seizes vessel in Gulf for allegedly smuggling diesel fuel

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have seized a vessel in the Gulf for allegedly smuggling 250,000 litres of diesel fuel to the United Arab Emirates, Iran’s semi-official Students News agency ISNA reported on Monday.

“It was detained near Iran’s Greater Tunb island in the Persian Gulf...the crew have been handed over to legal authorities in the southern Hormozgan province,” ISNA said, without elaborating on the nationalities of the crewmen.

The reported seizure coincided with raised international tensions following a weekend attack on a major oil installation in Saudi Arabia, Tehran’s longtime regional foe.

Responsibility for the strike was claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, while the United States has blamed Iran itself for the strike. Iran denies the accusation.

Iran, which has some of the world’s cheapest fuel prices due to heavy subsidies and the fall of its national currency, has been fighting rampant fuel smuggling by land to neighbouring countries and by sea to Gulf Arab states.

Iran stepped up its fight against smuggling fuel earlier this month when its coast guards seized a vessel for smuggling fuel in the Gulf and detained its 12 Filipino crew members.

In July, Iran seized a British oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations, two weeks after British forces detained an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar accused of taking oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

Iran’s Adrian Darya 1, formerly Grace 1, was released last month. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday that the British-flagged Steno Impero oil tanker will be released soon.

The latest reported ship seizure by Iran follows a series of incidents involving shipping in and near the Gulf after U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil exports took full effect in May.

The incidents coincided with stepped up attacks by the Houthis on targets in Saudi Arabia.

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Why The CIA Doesn't Spy On The UAE

The United Arab Emirates finances the military leader trying to topple a United Nations-recognised government in Libya. It helps lead a coalition of nations imposing an economic blockade of Qatar, despite U.S. calls to resolve the dispute. It hired former staffers of the U.S. National Security Agency as elite hackers to spy in a program that included Americans as surveillance targets, a Reuters investigation found this year.

And yet, in a highly unusual practice, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) does not spy on the UAE's government, three former CIA officials familiar with the matter told Reuters, creating what some critics call a dangerous blind spot in U.S. intelligence.

The CIA's posture isn't new. What's changed is the nature of the tiny but influential OPEC nation's intervention across the Middle East and Africa - fighting wars, running covert operations and using its financial clout to reshape regional politics in ways that often run counter to U.S. interests, according to the sources and foreign policy experts.

The CIA's failure to adapt to the UAE's growing military and political ambitions amounts to a "dereliction of duty," said a fourth former CIA official.

The U.S. intelligence community doesn't completely ignore the UAE. Another branch, the National Security Agency (NSA), conducts electronic surveillance - a lower-risk, lower-reward kind of intelligence-gathering - inside the UAE, two sources with knowledge of NSA operations told Reuters. And the CIA works with UAE intelligence in a "liaison" relationship that involves intelligence sharing on common enemies, such as Iran or al-Qaeda.

But the CIA does not gather "human intelligence" - the most valuable and difficult-to-obtain information - from UAE informants on its autocratic government, the three former CIA officials told Reuters.

The CIA, the NSA and the White House declined to comment on U.S. espionage practices in the UAE. The UAE's foreign ministry and its U.S. embassy did not respond to requests for comment.

The CIA's hands-off practice - which hasn't been previously reported in the media - puts the UAE on an extremely short list of other countries where the agency takes a similar approach, former intelligence officials said. They include the four other members of an intelligence coalition called "The Five Eyes": Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada.

CIA spies gather human intelligence on almost every other nation where the United States has significant interests, including some key allies, according to four former CIA officials.

The closest contrast to the UAE may be Saudi Arabia - another influential U.S. ally in the Middle East that produces oil and buys U.S. weapons. Unlike the UAE, Saudi Arabia is often targeted by the CIA, according to two former CIA officials and a former intelligence officer for a Gulf nation. Saudi intelligence agents have caught several CIA agents trying to recruit Saudi officials as informants, the sources said.

The Saudi intelligence agencies do not complain publicly about CIA spying attempts but privately meet with the agency's station chief in Riyadh to ask that the CIA officers involved be quietly ejected from the country, said the former intelligence official for a Gulf nation.

Robert Baer, a former CIA agent and author, called the lack of human intelligence on the UAE "a failure" when told about it by Reuters. U.S. policymakers, he said, need the best available information on the internal politics and family feuds of Middle Eastern monarchies.

"If you pride yourself on being a world service, it's a failure," he said. "The royal families are crucial."

'ROGUE STATE'

A former official in U.S. President Donald Trump's administration said the lack of UAE intelligence is alarming because the desert monarchy now operates as a "rogue state" in strategic nations such as Libya and Qatar and further afield in Africa.

In Sudan, the UAE spent years and billions of dollars propping up long-serving Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, then abandoned him and supported the military leaders who overthrew him in April. The new government's security forces in June killed dozens of protesters who were pushing for civilian rule and elections. The UAE has also built military bases in Eritrea and the self-declared Republic of Somaliland.

"You turn over any rock in the horn of Africa, and you find the UAE there," the former Trump administration official said.

The UAE has asserted itself as a financial and military power in areas "far from its immediate neighborhood," said Sara Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch.

"Whether Somalia, or Eritrea or Djibouti, or Yemen, the UAE is not asking for permission," she said.

In Yemen, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have led a coalition of nations fighting Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, but the UAE recently started drawing down troops amid international criticism over air strikes that have killed thousands of civilians and a humanitarian crisis that has pushed millions to the brink of famine. The U.S. Congress recently passed resolutions to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but President Trump vetoed the measures.

The UAE government has spent $46.8 million on U.S. lobbyists since 2017, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

One of the three former CIA officials with knowledge of the agency's UAE operations said intelligence on its government is needed for reasons beyond its regional interventions. The UAE is also forging closer ties with Russia - including a wide-ranging strategic partnership signed last year to cooperate on security, trade and oil markets - and with China, where Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the UAE's defector ruler, last month made a three-day visit for a UAE-China economic forum.

Some national security experts, however, continue to see enough alignment between U.S. and UAE interests to explain the continued lack of spying.

"Their enemies are our enemies," said Norman Roule, a retired CIA official, referring to Iran and al-Qaeda. "Abu Dhabi's actions have contributed to the war on terror, particularly against al-Queda in Yemen."

FEAR OF DEMOCRACY, POLITICAL ISLAM

The Abu Dhabi crown prince controls the foreign policy of the UAE, a federation of desert emirates, with a small group of advisors. He installed his U.S-educated brother, Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed, a mixed-martial arts buff who owns a stable of Arabian race horses, as his National Security Advisor. His son, Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed, runs the country's sprawling internal surveillance network.

The UAE's rising interventionism dates to 2011. Mass protests demanding democracy across the region during the so-called Arab Spring sparked rising concern within the UAE palace elite over the preservation of its own power, said Jodi Vittori, a former Air Force Intelligence officer now with the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace.

Like many Gulf royals, UAE leaders viewed the demonstrations as a threat to monarchic rule in the region. They have since fought the rise of political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood, the international Islamic party that briefly rose to power in Egypt after the 2011 protests that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. The UAE cut off financial support to Egypt when brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi was elected president in 2012, and then resumed sending billions in aid after Egypt's army ousted Mursi a year later.

Vittori, of the Carnegie Foundation, acknowledged some continuing shared goals between the U.S. and UAE governments but said those interests are diverging as the UAE's monarchy focuses on self-preservation.

"When the goal is regime-survival at all costs," she said, "it's not one that's going to align with the U.S."

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UAE: Convincing Evidence Needed on Gulf Tanker Attacks

A war of words between Washington and Tehran has escalated over the tanker attacks and Iran's downing last week of an unmanned American drone.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) officials say clear and convincing evidence was needed to place blame for attacks on four oil tankers off its coast last month and tensions in the region needed to be dialled down.

RELATED: Iran Not Looking for War with US: Rouhani

The United States and Saudi Arabia have publicly blamed Iran for a May 12 attack on t​​​​wo Saudi oil tankers, a Norwegian tanker and an Emirati vessel that were damaged in the act of agression in the Gulf of Oman. Tehran has denied any involvement.

The UAE has submitted the results of an investigation into the attack that indicated that a state entity was behind it, without naming the country.

“Honestly, we can’t point the blame at any country, because we don’t have evidence,” UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on Wednesday in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. “If there is a country that has the evidence, then I’m convinced that the international community will listen to it. But we need to make sure the evidence is precise and convincing.”

The UAE official stated his nation did not want any "more turbulence and ... more worries" for the region.

Sheikh Abdullah also said discussions were under way for a global coalition to protect oil shipping lanes in the region.

A senior U.S. State Department official said Monday the Navy was building a "proactive deterrence" program that would see a coalition of nations provide both material and financial contributions.

Around 20 percent of the world's crude passes through the Strait of Hormuz where the May incident took place and where another two vessels were attacked in June, making it the world's busiest shipping area for oil.

Sheikh Abdullah said the project would involved regional and other "(oil) exporting and importing" countries.

 
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UAE provides financial assistance to Cuba

The UAE has provided financial assistance to the Cuban government to help in efforts to rebuild the country following the damages of the Caribbean hurricanes which struck in 2017.

The UAE Ambassador to Cuba, Badr Abdullah Al Matroushi, delivered the financial assistance to the Cuban Deputy Minister of Trade and Foreign Investment, Ileana Barbara Nunez Mordoche.

On behalf of the Cuban government, Mordoche thanked the UAE government and people for this humanitarian gesture which reflects the distinguished relations between the two countries.

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