An article published by The New York Times on July 18 highlights a developing rift between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ), sparking concerns about potential challenges to regional stability and cooperation in the Gulf.
Once close allies, MBS and MBZ now find themselves engaged in a fierce competition for geopolitical and economic dominance in the Middle East and global oil markets. The waning influence of the United States, a long-standing ally, has further intensified their rivalry.
According to The New York Times, the two leaders, who played significant roles in each other’s rise to power, have not communicated directly for over six months. Their private disagreements have now become more public, raising worries among U.S. officials about the potential impact on critical regional issues.
One primary area of contention is their divergent approaches to the Yemeni conflict, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE supporting opposing factions. This divergence complicates efforts to find a resolution and poses a threat to the unity of the war-torn nation.
Additionally, tensions have surfaced between the two Gulf powers within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The UAE’s increasing oil-production capacity has led to disagreements with Saudi Arabia, the leading global crude exporter. Last year’s surprise decision by OPEC to reduce output further added complexity to regional affairs, catching the Biden administration off-guard.
As MBS and MBZ compete for influence, their rivalry extends beyond political matters to economic and soft power domains. MBS’s ambitious plans to reduce Saudi Arabia’s reliance on oil include challenging Dubai’s status as the Middle East’s commercial hub, potentially leading to an economic showdown between the two nations.
The report underscores that the escalating tensions between MBS and MBZ have drawn the attention of the Biden administration, which aims to form a unified front against Iran and find a resolution to the Yemeni conflict. Striking common ground between the two Gulf leaders now represents a significant foreign policy challenge for the U.S. administration.
Despite both countries emphasizing a strong strategic partnership, The New York Times’ analysis reveals a different reality in their actions and public statements. As MBS and MBZ adopt increasingly assertive foreign policies, experts caution that the situation may deteriorate, potentially leading to further instability in the region.
As the world closely watches the emerging divide between the Saudi Crown Prince and the UAE President, there are growing concerns about its potential impact on the Gulf region and relations with major global powers. The report emphasizes the urgent need for diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions and find common ground in addressing pressing regional challenges.