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Dec 27, 2011

The Revoking of Citizenship in the UAE

Members of the Arab Gulf states met (12/20/2011) in Saudi Arabia to discuss their agenda. King Abdullah addressed the members and urged them to move from the cooperation stage into an actual political unity. He stressed the impact of the political upheaval taking place in the region and the threat it might cause to the Arab states in the Gulf region. Furthermore, he stressed the fact that unity among the member states will strengthen them to face the threat from outside of the region. The leadership of the Arab Gulf states, in particular their neighbor Iran, is the source of their internal conflict, especially between the Sunnis and the Shiaas. Such sectarian conflicts have been part of the region for more than a thousand years.

One of the decisions made by the leaders during the conference was the withdrawal of the Saudi government’s invitation to Jordan and Morocco (May 2011) to join the royalty club of the Persian Gulf states. At the time, they saw in it a strategic point that will strengthen the monarchies regimes in the Arab world.

At that time, Jordan, who shares land borders with Saudi Arabia, welcomed the offer, while the Moroccan government was not too receptive of the idea due to the long distance that separates the countries.

To ease the negative impact of the withdrawal of the initiation, the members of the council decided to provide an economic fund equal to $5 billion to both Jordan and Morocco. Each state would get $2.5 billion for economic development.

The press reported that two members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, objected to the Saudi proposal. It should be of interest to speculate and analyze the rationale that led both states to object to that invitation. First, since it emerged as a state during the British Mandate during the first half of the twentieth century, Oman was in almost total isolation, even from its neighbors in the Gulf. The situation continued in many ways, even after Sultan Qaboor removed his father and assumed leadership in the state. Also, the government of Oman, who rules by decrees, did not want to open its borders for many young educated people from other countries with high literacy rates, especially Jordan, to travel to Oman without restrictions because it could have created a new awareness for their counterparts in Oman. Young people, as has been reflected in the spring revolution, is a contagious social and political disease that will impact their political and social institutions.

The Emirates’ objection, in my judgment, was influenced by the recent political-religious objections to the absolute rule of the princes’ council, which is based on tribal affiliations. The Islamic Islah Muslim organization has been calling for the political election of Islamic organizations recently in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco.

The UAE government officially announced the withdrawal of citizenship from six citizens who were accused of threatening the national security of the state. The accused individuals, who are members of al-Islah Muslim group, are accused of being connected to an outside power that threatens the state.

According to the press (Al-Khuds al-Arabi and al-Wafd, 12/24/2011), Sheikh Khalifa ben Zaid al-Nahyan, the head of the state, is the one who issued the order based on Law 16 #17, 1972).

The press also reported that all of the accused are academicians employed by the state and the university. Some of them are members of prominent families and Emirates tribes. However, all of them are known as active Islamists.

Citizenship is a human rights issue and the Emirates officials, who are known as liberals by comparison to some of their neighbors, should not have abused the rights of their citizens. In any civilized democratic society, the citizens’ have the right to criticize their officials. Unfortunately, UAE is not a democratic state. The withdrawal of citizenship will lead to political and sectarian conflict.

The Emirates’ total population is estimated at 4.7 million and 75% of them are foreign workers. This might be one of the major reasons behind the Emirates rejection of the Saudi proposal for Jordan and Morocco to join the Gulf Cooperation Council. More educated young Arabs moving into the Emirates without restriction is viewed as a potential ticking bomb that will threaten the authoritarian tribal base monarchy.

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