What Does the UAE Think About Iran and Israel?

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Iran and the United Arab Emirates don't get along. The two countries have a contested claim over three islands in the Persian Gulf (one of which Iran has occupied since 1992).

It's no wonder then that the UAE's ambassador to the U.S., Yousef al-Otaiba's, said the Middle East would be worse off with a nuclear-armed Iran than with a war against it.

Would that be the case even if the attack against Iran came from Israel? Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic and an expert on the Middle East, asked the question of Al-Otaiba at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Tuesday.

"A military attack on Iran by whomever would be a disaster," al-Otaiba said. "But Iran with a nuclear weapon would be a bigger disaster."

Goldberg later noted that this calculation is held by several moderate Arab states.

Iran doesn't need to wait for nuclear weapons in order to cause trouble, however. For years it has supported Hezbollah and Hamas as proxies in a fight against Israel.

Al-Otaiba said creating a Palestinian state would undermine Iran because popular support for the terrorist groups would diminish once Palestinians achieve statehood.

"We believe that progress on the peace process will ultimately lead to a better landscape for dealing with Iran," he said. "Hamas and Hezbollah's reason to exist is [to be] a resistance movement. They are there because they want a Palestinian state."

Later, Al-Otaiba said the U.S. has a stake in this saga.

"The sooner the U.S. appears to be objective and impartial and create a Palestinian state, we take that argument [of not addressing the needs of Palestinians] away from everyone" like Hamas and Hezbollah.


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Elizabeth Weingarten is an editorial assistant at the New America Foundation. A former Slate editorial assistant, she also previously wrote for and produced the Atlantic's International Channel.

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