Originally posted on Moon of Alabama, June 1, 2023.
There is a lack of ability or lack of willingness in ‘western’ media and politics to see the world through the eyes of others. This leads to wrong conclusions about certain situations and in consequence to misguided policies.
An example is yesterday’s New York Times piece about an recent announcement by the United Arab Emirates:
As Iran Seizes Tankers in Gulf, U.A.E. Pulls Back From U.S.-Led Maritime Force – New York Times – May 31, 2023
The United Arab Emirates announced on Wednesday that it had stopped participating in a maritime security force led by the United States, the latest hint of tensions between Washington and key Persian Gulf allies who complain that America has not done enough to protect them from Iranian threats.
The unusual public statement came after Iran seized two commercial tankers in waterways near the Emirates in quick succession over the past two months. The Emirati Foreign Ministry said the country “withdrew its participation” from the Combined Maritime Forces two months ago “as a result of our ongoing evaluation of effective security cooperation with all partners.”
Political analysts say the Emirati statement could be intended as a message to the United States that the country is displeased with the level of American protection for its allies in the Persian Gulf against threats from Iran and must look out for its own interests. Emirati and Saudi officials have repeatedly expressed frustration with U.S. policy toward Iran.
The parts of the above in italics mark the assumptions and miss-conclusions that come with the inability to see the world through the eyes of others. The ignorance of the state of affairs in the Gulf expressed through them is embarrassing.
The reason the UAE officials have given, bold in the above, is easy to understand when one sees the world through their eyes.
What was the last significant measure Emirati and Saudi officials took to “expressed frustration with U.S. policy toward Iran”?
Here is a hint:
Mediated By China Iran And Saudi Arabia Restore Ties – Moon of Alabama – Mar 20, 2023
The Saudis and the UAE, the later of which was never really enthusiastic about fighting Iran, have made their peace with it. They want and need economic development.
They had found that U.S. policies were leading either nowhere or towards a full fledged war in the Gulf which probably would have hurt themselves more than Iran. They therefore no longer want to support U.S. measures designed to express hostility towards Iran.
Here is it straight from the pages of the Tehran Times:
UAE determined to boost relations with Iran: minister – Tehran Times – May 31, 2023
Khalifa Shaheen Al Marar, who is a Minister of State of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), made the remarks during a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian on Tuesday.
The UAE’s minister emphasized Abu Dhabi’s determination to boost relations with the Islamic Republic, the Iranian foreign ministry said in a statement.
“There are no limits to the all-out expansion of relations,” the top Iranian diplomat said, according to a statement by the Iranian foreign ministry at the time.
The two sides stressed the importance of broadening cooperation, including in the private sector.
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for his part, highlighted the common interests of the two countries in the development of mutual relations in various fields, laying emphasis on various opportunities for joint cooperation.
Regarding the new conditions in the region, he said that in recent weeks, the region is witnessing the strengthening of cooperation, including good relations between Tehran and Riyadh and the new conditions in Syria.
The two sides mutually invited one another for visits to Tehran and Abu Dhabi.
As the UAE (and the Saudis) are intent to build better relations with Iran it would be counterproductive for them to take part in any U.S. led security measure that is intended to take on Iran.
The New York Times interpretation, that the UAE wants more U.S. pressure on Iran, is wrong because it fails to recognize the seriousness of the steps the UAE and the Saudis have taken with Iran. It fails to see the world through their eyes.
We know the Times is wrong because the UAE had said so itself after a similarly wrong report appeared in the Wall Street Journal.
UAE rejects mischaracterisation of US-UAE conversations regarding maritime security – Gulf Today – May 31, 2023
The UAE has rejected the mischaracterisation, in recent press reports, of US-UAE conversations regarding maritime security.
In a statement today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said that the UAE is committed to peaceful dialogue and diplomatic engagement as a means of advancing the shared goals of regional security and stability.
‘As a result of our ongoing evaluation of effective security cooperation with all partners, two months ago, the UAE withdrew its participation in the Combined Maritime Forces,” added the statement.
MoFA stressed that the UAE remains committed to responsibly ensuring the safety of navigation in its seas, in accordance with international law.
The “effective security cooperation with all partners” now obviously includes Iran. The renewed relations with Iran are the reason why the UAE stopped taking part in anti-Iranian measures. It comes, as the UAE statement mentions, two months after the Saudis and UAE made peace with Iran.
But what about those two tankers Iran has seized?
Well, the New York Times is of course harping about those two but it forgets to mention a third, earlier seized one which started the whole clash and is the reason for seizing the two later ones.
US confiscates Iran oil cargo on tanker amid Tehran tensions – Arab News/Reuters – Apr 28, 2023
The US confiscated Iranian oil on a tanker at sea in recent days in a sanctions enforcement operation, three sources said, and days later Iran seized another oil-laden tanker in retaliation, according to a maritime security firm.
Maritime security company Ambrey said the US confiscation took place at least five days before Iran’s action on Thursday. “Ambrey has assessed the seizure by the Iranian Navy to be in response to the US action,” it said in an advisory to clients.
“Both tankers were Suezmax-sized. Iran has previously responded tit-for-tat following seizures of Iranian oil cargo.”
The sources familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue, said Washington took control of the oil cargo aboard the Marshall Islands tanker Suez Rajan after securing an earlier court order. The tanker’s last reported position was near southern Africa on April 22, ship tracking data showed.
The tanker Iran-owned oil load the U.S. stole at high sea is currently anchored off Texas. Iran responded by seizing two U.S. related tankers and their load in the Gulf.
It is obvious that this was a tit for tat action as Iran has done this before:
Last year the US tried to confiscate a cargo of Iranian oil near Greece, which prompted Tehran to seize two Greek tankers in the Gulf. Greece’s supreme court ordered the cargo returned to Iran. The two Greek tankers were later released.
So here is the real story, the one the UAE based its decision on:
- Iran and the UAE have made peace and want to build on that. They want win-win economic relations with each other.
- The U.S. steals an Iranian tanker load.
- Iran reacts by seizing two U.S. related tankers.
- The U.S. revives a U.S.-led maritime security force to push against Iran’s tanker seizure.
- The UAE rejects to take part in the renewed anti-Iranian measure and says so publicly.
That is the full context the UAE acted in.
The New York Times however completely ignores the first two issues. Neither UAE-Iran relations nor the tanker the U.S. has seized are mentioned in its piece. It only reports the third and fourth measure to then misinterpret number 5, the step the UAE has taken in consequence of 1 and 2.
The Times writer even finds ‘experts’ who are as arrogant and ignorant as the herself to support her false assertions.
Think of the bad consequences such misinterpretations might cause when U.S. policy makers, who only digest the New York Times news diet, take action on such basis.
The lesson is that to understand one must see the world through the eyes of others. What information do they have? What is historic context they are living and acting in in? One can only understand what they do and why they do it when one puts oneself mentally into their situation.
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