American Secretary of Defense James Mattis met with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates at the White House on Monday to formally finalize a new mutual defense agreement between the two nations.
This new agreement is set to replace a previous one established in 1994, and is intended to better “reflect the broad range of military-to-military cooperation that the UAE and U.S. enjoy today,” spokesman Christopher Sherwood said.
According to the Pentagon, the agreement was actually signed by both nations on May 8th, but was not disclosed until the conclusion of Mattis’ meeting with the crown prince.
Mattis and Al Nahyan, who serves as the deputy supreme commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, discussed a variety of shared security threats between the two nations, including instability in Yemen and Libya and the ongoing fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. According to a statement released by the Department of Defense, the two also worked to reaffirm areas of mutual interest and shared values, such as “freedom of navigation, territorial sovereignty for the states of the Arabian Peninsula, and the fight against extremism.”
“The agreement marks a new chapter in our partnership and reflects the breadth and depth of our ongoing cooperation, which is underpinned by the mutual respect we share for the professionalism and efficacy of our armed forces. I look forward to continuing to work with the UAE in support of security and stability in the Middle East and around the world,” Mattis said to the media after the meeting.
There has not been any announcement thus far as to whether or not this new agreement will result in any changes to American military assets in the region.
President Trump also met with Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan briefly on Monday. While sitting side by side in the Oval Office, the American president referred to Al Nahyan as a “very special person” who loves both his own country and the United States.
During their meeting, Al Nahyan welcomed President Trump’s upcoming dialogue with Arab leaders in Riyadh later this month. President Trump is preparing to undergo his first foreign trip as the head of the American government next week, on which he will attending an “Arab, Islamic, and American conference” in Saudi Arabia next Sunday. Heads of state from more than a dozen nations are expected to be in attendance, including leaders from Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Pakistan and all six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. During this trip, President Trump will also visit Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, among other Israeli leaders.
During his meetings with the president, Al Nahyan emphasized the “critical role” the United States continues to play in the stability of the Middle East, and stressed the need for “coordinated and expanded assistance to meet the growing humanitarian challenges resulting from conflict and food shortages throughout the region.”
Officials from the United Arab Emirates and Defense Secretary James Mattis have made public statements in the past that suggest their stances on potential conflict regions of the Arab world, such as Iran, are similar. In recent months, the United States has seen increased support from the UAE in Yemen, where operations continue against al-Qaeda.
Image courtesy of Ryan Carter / Crown Prince Court – Abu Dhabi