The United Arab Emirates (UAE) operates within a broad framework of foreign policy. The foreign policy of UAE is founded on three main areas: diplomacy, negotiation and compassion. The UAE places the interests of its neighbors and the international community first, particularly with regards to international and regional peace and stability.
The UAE, in order to realize these objectives, has promoted bridges, developed partnerships and promoted dialogue. These factors have helped the government of UAE to pursue an affective and balanced international relations and foreign policy. The demand for justice in its international activities with other states, including the belief in the principle of non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign states is the guiding principle of the UAE’s foreign policy.
The UAE is dedicated to peaceful resolution of conflict and disputes, respect for international law and a firm implementation of international treaties and conventions. It is a member of both the UN and Arab League hence it has established diplomatic relations with approximately 100 countries in the world. The UAE has provided material and monetary support to various countries (US Department of State, 2011).
The relationship between the UAE and Afghanistan dates back to the 1980s during the communist regime when Soviet invaded Afghanistan. During this period, the government of UAE provided humanitarian and financial assistance to the people of Afghanistan to facilitate their fight for freedom.
It was also at that time that the people of Afghanistan were welcomed to reside in the UAE. It was after the defeat of the Soviet that Afghan established its embassy in Abu Dhabi in 1993 and this marked the beginning of a diplomatic relationship.
With regards to Afghanistan, the UAE has positively and immensely contributed to the international efforts of stabilizing Afghanistan and supporting the efforts to have a peaceful Afghanistan. From 2002 to 2008, the UAE has provided humanitarian and development aid to Afghanistan worth US$ 550 million making it the only Arab country to provide the most humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan (UAE Embassy, 2011).
Since the Tokyo conference of 2009, the UAE has contributed US$ 1.5 billion to stabilize Afghanistan. Its humanitarian contribution to Afghanistan began in 2003. The UAE Red Crescent has used approximately given US$30 million towards humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. It has made contributions to several projects in Afghanistan. It has also participated in various donor conferences held in Berlin and London with the UAE pledging to support the stability and the rejuvenation of Afghanistan.
The Red Crescent of the UAE has assisted the Afghan refugees by constructing camps for them on the side of Pakistan and providing them with basic commodities in collaborations with UNHCR. The UAE has also donated relief commodities like vehicles, communication equipments, electronics, and office materials (Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 2011).
Promotion of Peace
The UAE has contributed non-combatant troops to Afghanistan as part of its promotion of international security assistance force. This makes it one of the two main Islamic countries with troops in Afghanistan apart for NATO. The government of UAE supports the transitional efforts to increase responsibility to Afghan authorities.
Consequently, the UAE took part in NATO’s summit on Regional Economic Cooperation Conference held in Lisbon, Portugal. The summit enabled the UAE to understand the link between security and economy and hence prompting it to hold an investment conference on Afghanistan that targeted three main areas: infrastructure, mining and agriculture (UAE Interact, 2011).
The UAE has its military personnel in Afghanistan for defense, which is in line with the constitution of UAE. The UAE military on the ground protects humanitarian services as well as enhancing security of the local communities. The modern milestone made in vital sectors like the healthcare, educational and infrastructural development has been achieved with the help of the UAE military personnel.
The forces are also active in the promotion of Islamic culture (UAE Embassy, 2009). The UAE troops in Afghanistan have been functioning since 2004, and it is the only Arab force in the country. This force operates in the southern region of the country, specifically in the Uruzgan province where it has been well received by the local population there. Just as provided by the constitution of UAE, the armed forces in Afghanistan only serve defense purposes due to the constitutional principle.
The UAE only endeavors to extend its protection to the people of Afghanistan that it offers to its citizens to her neighbors in the field of national security (UAE, n.d.). The military is also used to perform culturally sensitive and other development activities by supplementing the work of the humanitarian organizations.
Provision of Aid and Building of Infrastructure
The UAE has actively contributed to the reconstruction of Afghanistan; this year (2011), the foreign minister of UAE announced that it will donate US$ 250 million towards the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The aid was to be managed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.
The aid was to be used in developing areas of housing for orphans, disabled people and the widows and the rehabilitation of the country’s cities and states. The donation, according to the UAE government was an appreciation of the progress made by the Afghan government despite the difficult times. The two governments have signed a memorandum of understanding on various fields that might require further consultation, particularly agreements on political cooperation.
The UAE citizens have also made private contributions of around US$ 22 million towards the rebuilding of Afghanistan. Through these donations, several schools, heath institutions, libraries and mosques have been developed. The creation of the Islamic fund by the UAE was primarily aimed at assisting the people of Afghanistan after the military intervention by US (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2011).
Since the collapse of the Taliban government, the UAE has pledged US$ 323 million worth of economic aid to Afghanistan. The UAE has also funded projects like the Zayed University which provides education to approximately 6,000 students of Afghanistan and various drinking wells and mosques (Katzman, 2011).
Promotion of Investment
The UAE has also taken action in promoting investment in the Afghanistan region. The establishment of the Afghanistan International Investment Friends was an initiative founded with the objective to promote and to advise the Afghanistan authorities on better laws and policies that can help spur investment to enhance the stabilization of the war-ravaged country.
The group would help advice the government on the need to put legislation in place that could protect foreign investment, promote economic growth and facilitate the creation of employment (Shaheen, 2010).
Treaties uniting the two Countries
On the signing of treaties, UAE and Afghanistan signed an extradition treaty with two other agreements namely: mutual legal assistance in matters of criminality and assistance, and cooperation on civil matters. The treaties were signed by the minister of Justice of the UAE and the minister for foreign affairs of Afghanistan. The signing of the bilateral treaty was motivated by the desire of the UAE to foster its bilateral, regional and international cooperation on legal and judicial areas (IPS, 2011).
Aviation Industry and Foreign Policy
The UAE was among the only three Arab countries that recognized Taliban as the legitimate government in Afghanistan; the other two were Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. During the Taliban regime, the UAE gave lee way to Ariana, the Afghan airlines to continue operating its services.
This was a recipe of smooth financial flows and development of organic relations between the two countries. These relations, however, was strained by the imposition of sanctions on Taliban by the UN, following the September 11 attack, UAE completely disabled its relationship because the Taliban was implicated as one of the prime supporters and sponsors of terrorists.
Despite the UAE support for the US-led war on Afghanistan, it has maintained its presence and support of Afghanistan’s people by being the only visible country aiding in humanitarian and reconstruction efforts as well supporting the civilians and refugees (Encyclopedia of the Nations, 2003).
Any hidden interest in the UAE Foreign Policy
There is basically no hidden interest in the favorable policy of UAE towards Afghanistan. This is because, what UAE id doing is primarily within its foreign policy objectives, which include: feeling of identification within the Muslim community, which entails providing development aid and assistance to fellow Muslims.
The UAE value their Arab identity and this guides its foreign policies and relations with Arab countries like Afghanistan. Consequently, the UAE is interested in establishing peace and stability within its Gulf neighbors and states of the peninsula; it is within this framework that the UAE is interested in the promotion of close relations with all the states that it shares similar religion, history, language, culture and tribal affinities with, which it is applying in Afghanistan (Hellyer, n.d.).
Supplementary role of UAE Military in Afghanistan
The humanitarian assistance and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan have often been interrupted by violence and instability that characterize Afghanistan. Criminal and insurgent forces have continued to threaten the peace and tranquility Afghanistan.
These factors have prompted the deployment of troops to serve three main purposes: protection of personnel working for the humanitarian organizations, provide enough security that is necessary for the humanitarian efforts and projects to succeed and to enhance the security, safety and stability of the local environment (Anon., 2006).
The government of the UAE has been paying a lot of attention on Afghanistan despite the country being ravaged by conflicts. The UAE provided financial and political assistance to the insurgents who fought in the Soviet Union. Immediately, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, UAE came as one among the few governments that recognized the Taliban authority.
This was because Taliban controlled around ninety percent of the Afghanistan territory. It is through the reconstruction efforts of the UAE that have led to massive school enrolment, which is a direct result from the increased construction of schools and other learning institutions. The UAE has generally made a huge contribution towards the stabilization of the Afghanistan nation, and thus the stabilization of the whole region in general.
Anon. (2006). United Arab Emirates yearbook. New York, NY: Trident Press Ltd.
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (2011). Afghanistan – UAE. Afghanistan Embassy – UAE. Retrieved from: http://afghanembassy-uae.com/en/afghanistan-uae.html
Encyclopedia of the Nations. (2003). United Arab Emirates – Foreign policy. Nations’ Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/World-Leaders-2003/United-Arab-Emirates-FOREIGN-POLICY.html
Hellyer, P. (n.d.). The Evolution of UAE Foreign Policy. The UAE Interact. Retrieved from: http://www.uaeinteract.com/uaeint_misc/pdf/perspectives/08.pdf
IPS. (2011). UAE-Afghanistan: Extradition treaty signed. IPS Agency. Retrieved from: http://www.ipsnotizie.it/wam_en/news.php?idnews=5682
Katzman, K. (2011). The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy. Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved from: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RS21852.pdf
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2011). UAE pledges US$ 250 mn for reconstruction in Afghanistan: Abdullah bin Zayed. Ministry of Foreign Affairs- UAE. Retrieved from: http://mofa.gov.ae/mofa_english/portal/46cabc33-968c-493a-b9e7-830add90ac86.aspx
Shaheen, K. (2010). UAE takes action to help promote Afghan investment. The National. Retrieved from: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/uae-takes-action-to-help-promote-afghan-investment
UAE Embassy. (2009). Foreign Policy. UAE Embassy. Retrieved from: http://www.uae-embassy.org/uae/foreign-policy
UAE Embassy. (2011). Foreign policy. UAE Embassy. Retrieved from: http://www.uaeembassy-newdelhi.com/theuae_foreignpolicy.asp
UAE Interact. (2011). Government-Political system. UAE Interact. Retrieved from: http://www.uaeinteract.com/government/foreign_policy.asp
UAE. (n.d). UAE Policy for the Provision of Direct Support to Afghanistan. Abu Dhabi Sites. Retrieved from: http://eaa.abudhabi.ae/Sites/EAA/Content/EN/PDF/Afghanistan-policy-eng,property=pdf,bereich=eaa,sprache=en,rwb=true.pdf
US Department of State. (2011). Background Note: United Arab Emirates. State Government. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5444.htm