UAE must “understand the needs” of big neighbors like Iran to survive: Wikileaks

Officials of the United Arab Emirates, home to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, said the tiny country had to “understand the needs” of its bigger neighbors like Iran and Saudi Arabia to survive and can only go so far in helping the US in the region.

A cable leaked by Wikileaks reports the UAE Central Bank governor Sultan Nasser al-Suweidi as urging the US not to ask for “impossible things” if it wants cooperation from the gulf state, sandwiched between Saudi Arabia on the south and Iran on the north.

“The Central Bank Governor noted that the UAE is very near ‘countries of concern,’ and that it has been able to maintain its security by not ‘harming anyone and by understanding their needs,'” notes the cable, written in 2006 by the Dubai US embassy points out, laying out one of the most candid political admissions by a government in the Wikileaks.

The Governor al-Suweidi further pleaded with the US against including UAE in the larger games played by the US in the region.

“Please do not involve us in the ‘name and shame’ of certain countries, because it would make our life very difficult. We know that you mean good, so we will help as we can, but hopefully it will be in other ways that will not harm us,” it quoted the Governor as saying.

“Stating that the UAE must coexist with its neighbors, he emphasized that the UAE must avoid engaging in conduct that could be viewed as a declaration of war,” the cable went on.

UAE, comprised of several small ’emirates’ (the region ruled by an emir, roughly translatable to ‘principalities’) is one of the World’s smallest countries. While it has some oil assets in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the main emirate — Dubai — has almost no assets other than its position as the gateway to the middle-east.

Al-Suweidi even quoted an Arabic saying translated as “if you want to be obeyed, ask for the achievable” when the US asked about its requests for freezing the assets of those on its hit list. He pointed out that the controversial Pakistani scientist AQ Khan’s daughter Dina Khan is now threatening to sue his bank for freezing her bank account in 2005.

“Dina Khan has hired a British lawyer and is threatening to sue the UAE Central Bank in the UK for “physical and emotional” damages,” UAE officials complained to the visiting US delegation.