(Photo credit: AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to meet with UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan (MbZ) during a visit to Morocco on 29 March.
During their meeting, Blinken will reportedly try to shore up the frosty relations between Washington and Abu Dhabi.
On 24 March, Israeli media reported that the White House had cancelled plans at the last minute for Blinken to visit the UAE and Saudi Arabia during his five-day tour of West Asia and North Africa, which began on 26 March.
Over recent months, Washington has seen its influence wane across West Asia, particularly with its historic partners, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Since the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, Washington has pressed for its Gulf allies to take a harsher stance against Moscow.
However, the UAE in particular has increasingly shown their willingness to strengthen ties with Russia; first, by abstaining during a UN security council vote on Ukraine last month. Then, on 17 March, Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed travelled to Moscow to announce UAE interest in bolstering global energy security by cooperating with Russia.
This declaration was followed by a surprise visit to Abu Dhabi by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – a close ally of the Kremlin – marking the first time he visited an Arab country since the start of the US-sponsored war against Syria.
The US responded negatively to the surprise visit, with State Department spokesperson Ned Price saying: “We are concerned by reports of this meeting and the signal it sends.”
Later, US officials said they were “profoundly disappointed” in the UAE.
Nonetheless, Washington is continuing its push for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to increase their oil production in order to offset the global energy crisis caused by the unprecedented sanctions imposed on Russia.