May 17, 2022

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UAE strongman Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed named new president

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DUBAI — The United Arab Emirates’ de facto leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan was elected president of the Gulf Arab state by a federal supreme council on Saturday, solidifying his rule over the OPEC oil producer and key regional player.

He becomes president at a time when the UAE’s long-standing ties with the United States have been strained over perceived U.S. disengagement from its Gulf allies’ security concerns and as Western countries seek support from the region to help isolate Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

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The council, which groups the rulers of the seven emirates of the UAE federation, elected Sheikh Mohammed, known as MbZ, a day after the death of his half-brother, President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, who was also ruler of Abu Dhabi.

“We congratulate him and pledge allegiance to him as do our people,” said Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is also UAE vice-president and premier.

MbZ, 61, has wielded power behind the scenes for years and led a realignment of the Middle East that created a new anti-Iran axis with Israel.

The UAE, a trade and tourism hub, has also deepened ties with Russia and China at a time when Washington’s political capital with Abu Dhabi and Riyadh has been eroded by differences over the Yemen war, Iran and U.S. conditions on arms sales.

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“Mohammed bin Zayed has set not only the future course for the UAE but for much of the Gulf in his approach to state building and power projection,” said Kristin Diwan, senior resident scholar at Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

“The future direction under him is set and is mirrored in…

Reuters

2022-05-14 12:59:28

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