Robert Mason
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Relations with Europe
Conditionality and unity
in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
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Focusing on the relations between the UK, France, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, this chapter begins with a brief summary of British and French colonial-era influences in the Arabian Peninsula. It then turns to the British withdrawal ‘East of Suez‘ and subsequent engagement during the Cold War. In the contemporary era, the chapter highlights convergences and divergences in UK and French foreign policies. These states have had a bearing on these Gulf states through the 1990–91 Gulf War, the Middle East peace process, their diplomacy with Iran, participation in US-led intervention in Afghanistan from 2001, divergent approaches to Iraq in 2003 and through strong French support for the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011. After the UK return to ‘East of Suez‘ in 2014 and a French defence cooperation agreement with the UAE in 2019, there is evidence to suggest a continuation of colonial-era policies. The footprint of Saudi and UAE economic interests in Europe (including in the UK premier league) and dependence on arms exports draws attention to the rich weave of long-term and diversifying economic relations. With counterterrorism and intelligence cooperation of paramount concern, other factors such as wider social–legal–political environments are shown to cause consternation in these monarchies, retaliation at times and reinforce a ‘Push East’ effect.

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Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

Foreign policy and strategic alliances in an uncertain world

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