As it became known to all; Under the auspices of the United States, the Ibrahim Accords inaugurated a new phase of Arab-Israeli normalization, or more precisely, that showed to the surface the undeclared alliance between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain behind it and the Israeli occupation, before the agreement was quickly extended to include Sudan, and then Morocco, with references to the possibility Expanding the circle of those who joined the agreement.
Apart from the talk about the nature of the deal, the regional alignments, and the new political paths drawn in the region, there are questions looming on the horizon about popular positions, as they are the main line of defense for “just causes”, in light of the incursion of authoritarian regimes and their control over the Arab political scene and their quest to dominate Popular discourse.
In contrast to what happened in Sudan, and to a relatively lesser degree in Bahrain, in the presence of a popular reaction against the declaration of normalization, the scene in the United Arab Emirates seemed completely soft and even supportive of this step at the popular level, as it appears publicly at least. Most likely, you read one of the Emirati publications that says that we stand with our leadership regardless of its position, or you pass by one of them praising the review of ideas and the importance of not fossilizing and being open to the horizon of “human and progressive”, and you must have seen that which does not need any justification, and calls for consideration From a “realistic” perspective, it takes into account the Qatari national interest rather than others, and the one who is able to change his position in an instant, only because the inspired leader said so.
As for you, the mighty artist Hussein Al Jasmi is this duty. If the ruler takes an order, we will be with him and support him and stand with him heart and soul as long as this matter does not involve disobedience to God. ???? https://t.co/UO9ZIV2g4a
– Adel Al-Aseel (@ libermoh22) October 1, 2020
This position raises a fundamental question: Are we facing truly enforced popular silence? In the beginning, let us turn towards one of the important observations that cannot be overlooked, apart from the event and its political consequences, which is related to the way the decision passed at the popular level in the Emirates and some neighboring Gulf countries, despite the emergence of many Gulf opposition voices – including the Emiratis. Residing abroad- The local Emirati scene seemed to be compromised, and even supportive of what appears to be the decision, which was soon a taboo that could not be violated, at least at the popular level.
There are two main observations that cannot be overlooked when we analyze the Emirati social and political scenes. The first is the absence of society in its active political sense, and the second is closely related to the local ablation campaigns that affected the opposition voices, which are based on the popular notion that “strike the bound is afraid of the sayeb”. The two previous observations represent an important ground to start from, as it is impossible to measure the level of Emirati popular satisfaction with normalization by looking at the interactions on social media only, for several reasons. First: The long history of political arrests of dissenting opinions in the UAE, second: the presence of opposition figures, even potential ones, in prisons or in exile, and finally: the high cost of expressing opinion and strict authoritarian control on social media platforms. What was previously indicated by Emirati activist Alaa Al-Siddiq to “Maidan” by saying that “Social media sites do not often express the true situation. In the UAE, there is an anti-information technology crime law, which stipulates in its following articles penalties that can discourage any critic of the regime’s decisions.
In this context, we will embark on a journey to a deeper understanding of the scene, from many levels, economic, social and political. It must be noted here that the three levels usually intersect and overlap. In what follows, we will deal with the economic and social levels in detail, provided that the political factor is implicitly present in both levels, as it is inseparable from them in any way.
There is a lot of literature that dealt with the issue of power, hegemony, the public sphere, the relationship between the individual and power and its determinants, spaces of meeting, competition and contradiction, and it spoke about the modern nation-state and its sanctities, and about the neglected body in the state and the vital politics that made the individual fall into a network of relationships of hegemony and symbolic and material violence. Organized by. Without going into the theoretical details of these ideas, the journey of power transition to the central pattern in the Gulf states was unique, and complex in a way that was incapable of understanding the recycling of packaged notions about the Gulf.
With the consolidation of the pillars of the rentier state in the Gulf region in general, oil revenues flowed to the central authority (1), which contributed to major social and political transformations. The Bahraini researcher and academic Omar Hisham Al-Shehabi points out that the emergence of the oil industry and the clustering of its revenues in the hands of the political system controlling it constituted the two main elements that led to the total radical restructuring of society. (2)
As a result, and as Al-Shihabi points out, looking at who controls the capital and the mechanism of its flow leads us to know how society is formed around it. On the domestic level, oil revenues have led to the dismantling of the historical dependence between decision-makers and other segments of citizens (tribal sheikhs, merchants, war men, etc.), and decision-makers have become able to use these revenues to form social and economic relations and the official state apparatus in a way that serves their interests. The same idea is confirmed by a doctoral student in political science, Muhammad al-Marri, in his dialogue with Meydan, noting that “oil wealth has played a pivotal role in facilitating the process of redefining the relationship between the Gulf individual (and thus the Gulf community) and all kinds of power.” Before the twentieth century; The relationships between these forces were radically different, and so material abundance played a “lubricant” role.To introduce new definitions of the relationship between the individual and the authority that would not have penetrated without material capacity.
On the other hand, the abundance of oil caused the consolidation of relations between local decision-makers in the Gulf countries and the Western countries, which were the main market for oil exports. Previously, Britain was in the lead, but today, the United States is the main center of gravity for the Gulf states. In this way, the Gulf state was able to acquire the sources of power and power in society, by combining it between two main things (3): the organized power derived from social organization, that is, the complex network of social institutions that include the government and violent repression devices such as the police, and the power derived from the ownership of material resources. And wealth.
The foregoing represents a general entry that can be projected on all Gulf countries, with a number of local variations that vary from one Gulf country to another. But the most common mistake here lies in the traditional view of political regimes in the Gulf as an extension of political regimes that preceded them (such as saying that the current political system is a tribal system only), and the fact that this matter has changed significantly due to the state and market penetration of all sectors of Middle Eastern society (4) In addition, the presence of the tribe in the lived reality, although it remained extended and present, its political employment and social presence were based on authoritarian alignments that are subject to the logic of the nation-state, which made the recall of the tribe in the living reality marred by many changes that need careful consideration before analysis. .
With regard to the Emirates specifically, the issue of the concentration of military and financial power in the hands of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi among the rest of the seven emirates, especially in the current mandate of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, and the expansion of the employment of coarse policies from 2011 onwards. It is considered a critical shift in understanding the current Emirati policies and the mentality of its leadership, which differs greatly from the approach of the country’s founder Sheikh Zayed, the author of the famous saying “reforming one’s self” in his treatment of issues of internal discord between the seven emirates.
This does not mean that the power struggles were not present in the custody of the late Emir Sheikh Zayed and among the princes of the other Emirates. Rather, it can be said that the management of these conflicts and differences was based on a consensual approach that tends to harmonize and take into account balances while ensuring that the supreme power remains in the hands of Abu Dhabi. During his reign, he gained the UAE soft power and a conciliatory internal and external reputation. However, the rise of Mohammed bin Zayed coincided with the adoption of a different approach based on the priority of security and the economy, especially with the rootedness of the state’s authority and its tightening of its grip on these files.
In addition to the above, and to emphasize the importance of the economic factor, Abu Dhabi’s possession of leadership in the field of oil under the leadership of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company was a decisive factor in its huge financial influence that allowed it to expand its influence at the expense of other Emirates. It can be said that the emirate of Dubai is the only one that has had a real economic influence, as the emirate tried in various ways to seek ways to achieve financial and economic independence that would enable it to preserve its autonomy and not slide towards the central tendency of Abu Dhabi, which has already succeeded in subjugating the rest of the Emirates, and it has done Dubai, through transforming itself into a global financial center, and paying attention to construction, tourism, trade and control of global ports.
With the political situation of the Al Maktoum family, the rulers of Dubai, in the ruling coalition, which Britain guaranteed them to them, Dubai was able under Sheikh Zayed’s presidency of the Emirates to induce economic booms that led to the preservation of the balance between it and Abu Dhabi to some extent, but the turning point that broke this Balance was the financial crisis in Dubai in 2008 that gave Abu Dhabi the upper hand. In conjunction with the rise of the military and security component of the UAE state during the era of Mohammed bin Zayed, whose emergence marked the end of the era of relative tribal balances between the seven emirates in favor of the police, according to Foreign Policy magazine .
The same description was used by Alaa Al-Siddiq when she spoke to Meydan about the method of governance and decision-making that has become totally centered in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi . Its foreign policy, which has become more coarse since the Arab Spring uprisings, and Abu Dhabi’s efforts to blockade the nascent democratic experiences in the Arab world, and the siege of political Islam, is the current that Abu Dhabi considered its strategic enemy in the region.
The economic factor was strongly present in Abu Dhabi’s harsh policy towards everything related to the Arab revolutions that erupted at the beginning of 2011, as the UAE put its financial and security weight to thwart the revolutionary movements and the efforts of democratic transition, and it was more rough and resolute in dealing with political Islam in particular, and in this The context, we note, for example, that the UAE spent nearly $ 14 billion only to stabilize Sisi’s rule in Egypt, following his military coup that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013.
Likewise, Abu Dhabi intervened in Yemen also to kill the revolution, fearing the arrival of “reform” to power and in order to preserve its interests in the south in particular, which prompted it to place its financial and military weight in support of the Southern Transitional Council , which has a separatist agenda, which had two main roles, according to the Yemeni researcher in political sociology. Muhammad Al-Hamiri in his interview with “Meydan” website: The first is to expel the groups that contributed to the liberation of Aden in the past, including the reform movement affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and the other is to implement the UAE’s agenda by controlling the southern regions, such as the Socotra archipelago, which reports indicate the UAE’s intention to establish a military baseIntelligence in cooperation with Israel, not to mention Abu Dhabi’s effective control of the city of Aden through the Transitional Council as well, despite the passage of more than a year since the Riyadh Agreement, which stipulates in one of its clauses that the military forces loyal to him be withdrawn from the city in favor of the legitimate government, and this control comes With the aim of controlling the coastal strip of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, which occupies a prominent role in the “empire of ports” that the UAE seeks to control in the region.
In Libya, the UAE has invested its power to serve General Khalifa Haftar, and it has provided him with financial and military support in the face of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord, unlike a number of other files that the UAE has penetrated into, such as the attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016, which is the file In which Turkey accuses Mohammed Dahlan, the security advisor to Mohammed bin Zayed, of being involved in it, which has also generated a sharp divergence in regional positions between the UAE and Turkey.
In short terms, we can say that Abu Dhabi’s economic influence, with its leadership’s harsh security vision, greatly facilitated and accelerated the process of incursion and control internally and regionally, and helped Abu Dhabi achieve its goal of killing democratic experiments in the region, and the declared normalization with the Israeli occupation state was nothing but an extension It is natural for Abu Dhabi’s approach to its foreign policy, which required simultaneously reshaping the social fabric and controlling the system of values and ideas adopted by the Emiratis in order to build a social and cultural base that could ensure the continuation of these policies for the longest possible period, without the slightest opposition.