Im­po­lite UAE

The Korea Times - - OPINION -

Be­lated as it may be, there is a great need to take is­sue with the re­cent visit of United Arab Emi­rates (UAE) En­ergy Min­is­ter Suhail Mo­hamed Faraj Al Mazrouei for a meet­ing with For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung-wha.

The UAE min­is­ter went against pro­to­col and po­ten­tially em­bar­rassed the host coun­try by us­ing his visit as a plat­form for a diplo­matic war against Qatar. He came here for the pur­ported agenda of boost­ing the two coun­tries’ en­ergy sec­tor co­op­er­a­tion, but ended up ask­ing for Seoul’s sup­port.

A week ear­lier, Qatar and Korea had an en­ergy min­is­ters’ meet­ing but no moves against the UAE or any of its three al­lies in the on­go­ing row came out of it. Dur­ing his meet­ing with Kang, Al Mazrouei called Qatar a source of ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism. The UAE min­is­ter also called a news con­fer­ence to pour venom on his Mid­dle Eastern neigh­bor. He blamed Qatar for sab­o­tag­ing a diplo­matic ef­fort to solve their dif­fer­ences by leak­ing a 13-point de­mand that called on Qatar to close its global news net­work, Al Jazeera, among other things. Al Jazeera has been crit­i­cal of the re­gion’s king­doms for their au­to­cratic kings, es­pe­cially the House of Saud. The net­work is lauded as a bea­con of free press in the re­gion af­ter the BBC bu­reau was kicked out.

No state-level pres­sure or at­tack against a me­dia out­let with the pur­pose of in­flu­enc­ing its ed­i­to­rial pol­icy should be con­doned. The UAE min­is­ter’s be­hav­ior may well re­flect his coun­try’s anti-press free­dom ten­dency. Min­is­ter Kang could have been firmer with her mes­sage that the vis­i­tor should keep his do­mes­tic pol­i­tics off the agenda.

The UAE, Saudi Ara­bia, Egypt and Bahrain have been try­ing to iso­late Qatar diplo­mat­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally as part of a strug­gle for power be­tween Saudi Ara­bia and Iran.

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