United Arab Emirates vs. Canada

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The United Arab Emirates is such a beacon of stability and Western-facing capitalism, in a region known for neither, that Abu Dhabi's reputation for wealth and glamor made it the site of Sex and The City 2. Canada, though it has contributed thousands of troops to the war in Afghanistan, still has an international image as America's friendlier, quieter, and more polite neighbor.

In other words, these are not two countries you would expect to find in high-stakes international conflict. But that's exactly what happened when Canada sought a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the 15 members of which constitute one of the most important multilateral bodies in the world. Canada, in a very public moment of defeat that surprised the world, had to drop its bid due to lack of support from the United Nations General Assembly. No one was really sure how Canada failed so poorly, but now the Associated Press is reporting that this was just the latest round in what is apparently a very tense low-level conflict between these two otherwise extremely peaceful nations.

The United Arab Emirates lobbied against Canada's bid for a U.N. Security Council seat in the latest blow to relations that soured after disputes over airline routes, a UAE official said Thursday.

The Gulf country's opposition followed harsh complaints about Canada's refusal to open more flights for the fast-growing carriers Emirates and Etihad. The government in Abu Dhabi is also forcing Canada to leave a military base that is used to supply Canadian forces in Afghanistan.

As the A.P. report concedes, it's "not clear" how the relatively small UAE was able to swing the entire world against voting for the Great Maple Menace. "But the country carries influence beyond its small size because of extensive international business ties." As an international shipping and transportation hub, there are very few countries that don't have some kind of economic ties to UAE. And certainly no world leaders wanted to find themselves banned from the giant swimming pool shaped like a palm tree.

It's uncertain at this point whether Canada will retaliate in this ongoing international conflict. But, if we lived in Abu Dhabi, we'd stock up on wood pulp and timber while we still can.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.