UAE Warns of Escalating Risks in the Middle East Amid Gaza Conflict

In a stark warning, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has expressed concerns about the potential for a regional spillover from the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza. The UAE, a key player in the Middle East and a prominent signatory of the 2020 Abraham Accords with Israel, emphasized the urgency of working towards a humanitarian ceasefire to avoid wider regional ramifications.

Noura Al Kaabi, a minister of state at the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered the warning during a policy conference in Abu Dhabi. She acknowledged the complexities of the conflict and highlighted the broader context, emphasizing the need to lower regional tensions that appear to be reaching a critical point. The UAE’s involvement in the Abraham Accords had aimed to pave the way for normalized ties between Israel and other regional powers, including Saudi Arabia. However, the recent conflict in Gaza has posed challenges to those aspirations.

“As we continue working to stop this war, we cannot ignore the wider context and the necessity to turn down the regional temperature that is approaching a boiling point,” Al Kaabi stated. She pointed out the real risks of regional spillover and further escalation, cautioning against the potential exploitation of the situation by extremist groups to advance ideologies that perpetuate cycles of violence.

The UAE, as a significant oil producer, views Islamist groups such as Hamas as an existential threat to the Middle East. The country supported Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when he ousted President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. Al Kaabi emphasized the need for every effort to protect civilians and bring an immediate end to the conflict, recognizing the humanitarian impact and the potential for long-term consequences.

The UAE’s commitment to addressing the humanitarian aspects of the conflict was underscored by Al Kaabi’s announcement that the UAE planned to treat 1,000 Palestinian children from Gaza. However, specific details on how these children would leave the besieged enclave were not provided.

The recent outbreak of hostilities in Gaza occurred when Hamas militants breached the border on October 7, leading to a series of events resulting in significant casualties and damage. Israel contends that Hamas killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and took over 200 hostages. In response, Israel launched a bombardment campaign on the densely populated Gaza Strip, resulting in a substantial number of casualties, including a tragic toll on children, according to Gaza health authorities.

“We are working relentlessly to reach an immediate and full humanitarian ceasefire so life-saving aid could be delivered to Gaza Strip,” Al Kaabi affirmed. The focus on a ceasefire and humanitarian assistance reflects the UAE’s recognition of the urgent need to address the immediate impact on civilians.

Furthermore, Al Kaabi called attention to the root causes of the conflict, characterizing it as a result of “decades of long failure” to find a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This acknowledgment underscores the complexity of the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East and the enduring challenges in achieving a lasting solution.

In a related development, Bahrain, also a signatory to the Abraham Accords, announced that its ambassador to Israel had returned home, and the Israeli ambassador in Manama had left the kingdom. While the statement did not explicitly state whether the Israeli ambassador was expelled, it adds another layer of diplomatic strain within the region.

In conclusion, the UAE‘s warning about the risk of a wider Middle East crisis stemming from the Israel-Hamas conflict highlights the urgency for diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire and address the humanitarian fallout. The broader implications of regional tensions, potential extremist exploitation, and the need for a comprehensive resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict add layers of complexity to an already intricate geopolitical landscape. The immediate focus on humanitarian assistance and a call for a ceasefire underscores the recognition that addressing the human impact is a crucial step in any path toward stability in the region.

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