The United Arab Emirates, one of the most influential Arab states, has come out in support of President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on immigration from seven nations with terrorism problems.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the foreign minister of the UAE, called Trump’s executive order a “sovereign decision,” and said he was convinced the move was not “directed against a particular religion,” Sky News reported.
“This is a temporary ban and it will be revised in three months, so it is important that we put into consideration this point,” he said Wednesday during a news conference in Abu Dhabi.
“Some of these countries that were on this list are countries that face structural problems. These countries should try to solve these issues … and these circumstances before trying to solve this issue with the United States.”
He also fought back against the impression that Trump’s temporary pause was a “Muslim ban.”
“There are attempts to give the impression that this decision is directed against a particular religion, but what proves this talk to be incorrect first is what the U.S. administration itself says … that this decision is not directed at a certain religion,” Abdullah said, according to Reuters
He also voiced some tentative support for President Trump’s decision to establish “safe zones” in war-torn Syria.
“If the aim behind these areas is humanitarian and temporary and under an international umbrella, I think this is a basis we can work on,” the sheikh said.
“But I think that it is still early to decide what our final stance toward these zones is before we hear from the new U.S. administration the ideas and develop that further.”
The United Arab Emirates is one of America’s top partners in the Middle East, and positioning itself in favor of the temporary freeze on immigration could be a preemptive way of negotiating with the Trump administration.
Of course, the UAE has been notoriously reluctant to take in Syrians. As What’s On reports, the Muslim nation had resisted taking in any refugees from the conflict until last September, when it agreed to take in 15,000 — a relatively small number given the UAE’s proximity to Syria.
Either way, it’s a surprising sign that the Middle East may be less concerned about the overhyped “Muslim ban” aspect of Trump’s policy than the American left is.
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