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Since August, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been on a comprehensive regional tour that has involved Abu Dhabi reconciling with Qatar, strategically re-engaging Turkey, shaking hands with the Bashar Assad regime in Syria and officially reaching out to Iran. The diplomatic soft power stunts are underwritten by a neo-mercantilist grand strategy that has been the backbone of Emirati successes since before the eruption of Arab Spring protests in 2010-11.
Nearly a year after Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states reconciled in Saudi Arabia’s Al Ula, leading to the lifting of the blockade on Qatar imposed by the ‘Arab Quartet’ (Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAEA) in 2017, the blockade’s masterminds in Abu Dhabi have turned their foreign and security policy around from zero-sum confrontation to pragmatic engagement. With Qatar emerging from the blockade crisis more resilient than before and extensive soft power ties in the United States and Europe, the UAE initially appeared isolated from what appeared to be a Saudi-led initiative to end the rift within the GCC...
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