Two views of the U.A.E.

Canadian irritation, American admiration

While the Canadian government is squabbling with the United Arab Emirates, the United States seems to value highly the tiny Persian Gulf nation as a key Arab ally. U.S. diplomatic notes, which are part of the massive WikiLeaks unwrapping of previously secret American government documents, describe the U.A.E. as a trusted, useful partner in a “rough and unforgiving neighbourhood.” American diplomats praise the U.A.E. for being willing to help out in regional trouble spots and for allowing U.S. military access to vital air bases. U.A.E. aid to Afghanistan and diplomatic outreach to Pakistan are also highlighted. But Stephen Harper’s Conservative government last year refused the U.A.E.’s request for more landing rights for its commercial airlines in Canada, leading the Arab state to cut off Canada’s use of a military base near Dubai, previously used as an important staging point for troops and supplies on their way to Afghanistan. As well, the U.A.E imposed new visa requirements on Canadian visitors. The rift between Ottawa and the U.A.E. also exposed a division in the Harper cabinet, with Defence Minister Peter MacKay arguing for more a more accommodating approach to the Arab country’s interests.

Toronto Star

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