The UAE-Afghan equation

Afghanistan’s importance for the UAE cannot be underestimated. Its geographical proximity and the political and ideological dimensions of its security are factors that lend it an extreme significance. This is why the UAE’s concerns for Afghanistan’s security run so deep.

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Published: Mon 22 Nov 2010, 9:24 PM

Last updated: Tue 31 Oct 2023, 3:46 PM

Besides, its commitment to helping the Afghan people has undoubtedly been one that is steadfast. This is well appreciated by the Afghan government and the people who understand the significance of this assistance and cooperation in the development sector as well as in security.

At the recent NATO Summit in Lisbon, the UAE Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan reiterated his country’s support to the transition of increased responsibility to the Afghan government. Efforts to transfer increasing responsibility to Afghan security institutions over the next few years are already underway. With efforts being made to boost recruitment and training of the Afghan National Army and the Police, the aim is to make the country fully capable of meeting any security challenges.

Being one of the first Muslim states to partner with the international coalition, the UAE has provided invaluable support in security by aiding in peacekeeping and demining efforts. Moreover, even a bigger role in peacekeeping in the future may be an important consideration, given the inherent advantages the UAE has over other western allies. For one, it is a Muslim state thus obviating its forces’ from being a target of insurgents brandishing the infidel card. Second, its peacekeeping efforts has been well received by the Afghan people. Third, the UAE is valued as a friendly state that is well respected and deeply appreciated for it’s unbiased and neutral standing. Fourth, its vital contributions in the development sector have endeared it even more to the Afghan people. By providing financial assistance and helping build educational institutions, hospitals and roads, the UAE has contributed tremendously in reconstruction and economic stability.

Security remains a dominant concern, as Shaikh Abdullah in his speech at the Summit pointed out. At the same time, development and economic progress are on top of the agenda. Shaikh Abdullah also noted that as part of the efforts to bolster economic activity, the UAE was hosting the first Afghanistan International Investment Conference, which is to be held in Dubai at the end of November. It is hoped that improved security and stability will attract more investors in the long run. Given Afghanistan’s vast and yet untapped wealth of natural resources, stability is likely to bear rich dividends for the people.

As Afghanistan enters a decisive phase in its protracted struggle to defeat an Al Qaeda affiliated insurgency, it is hoped that a combination of military means, political solution and economic development may help in achieving what many consider impossible. What is heartening is that the UAE along with other Muslim countries is fully supporting these efforts.

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