The Middle East and The United States! The two divergent and hugely unique parts of the world have often come to blows over several and severe cases of terrorism, brazen incidences of human rights abuses, arms trade, rumors of wars, and unavoidable geopolitical crises- mostly in the Middle East- that tend to get hostile reactions from the USA. But an important composite or let’s put it this way, a link between the two regions happen to be the spy operations.
Yet, it’s surprising to note that the CIA, active in Israel and Iran, doesn’t function in the UAE. So a question that remains largely unanswered, to this day, is why does the CIA not spy on the UAE, an important part of the Middle East?
A former CIA official, unbeknownst to all, shared that the CIA hasn’t really checked on or tracked UAE’s growing military and political ambitions. The tiny OPEC nation has been constantly intervening in many an affair across the Middle East as well as Africa, where its deep-rooted interests in fighting wars, running covert establishments, and above all, using its position of relative financial strength to influence the politics and developments of the region have gone unchecked by the CIA.
But while the CIA doesn’t actively spy on the UAE, to state that the agency doesn’t collect any information on the region whatsoever would be to fire a shot in the dark. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The American spymasters don’t happen to completely ignore the region; the NSA runs an electronic surveillance system within the UAE to keep a track of the developments in the said region.
The CIA’s interest in the region is often encircled around the activities of the Al Qaeda, a dreaded long-term enemy. In fact, to that end, it’s worthwhile to note that the CIA actually shares a ‘liaison relationship’ with the intel agencies of the UAE on terror-threats and related elements.
Yet, what is startling is that the CIA does not spy on the UAE putting to use its greatest strength: HUMINT (collecting human intelligence).
HUMINT, it mustn’t be forgotten, is that sensitive form of information that’s the hardest to source or obtain, agents constantly putting their lives on the line in the process of intel-gathering.
Intelligence inputs from key media portals on the said issue underlined the following insights:
The CIA’s hands-off practice – which hasn’t been previously reported in the media – puts the UAE on an extremely short list of other countries where the agency takes a similar approach, former intelligence officials said. They include the four other members of an intelligence coalition called “The Five Eyes”: Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
CIA spies gather human intelligence on almost every other nation where the United States has significant interests, including some key allies, as per four former CIA officials.
But unlike UAE, a nation with which America doesn’t really have active espionage interest, key Middle-East allies such as Saudi Arabia cut a different picture altogether. Saudi Arabia not only happens to buy weapons that are US-based but often also falls under the US-driven espionage.
In the recent past, on various occasions, Saudi officials have caught members of the CIA recruiting Saudis as informers. But to be active in Saudi Arabia, a long-standing trade partner and remain aloof in the UAE is something that cloak and dagger veterans such as Robert Baer, formerly with the CIA, cannot seem to stomach.
But if one were to understand the oddity behind why the CIA does not spy on the UAE, then nothing could connote a better understanding than the following piece of truth:
According to former Trump government official, the UAE now operates a ‘rogue state’ in several nations of key interest to the US- for instance, Libya and Qatar.
Even in far off regions such as Sudan, the UAE has exercised its muscle by supporting a regime and then completely toppling it by extending support to rebel groups dedicated to countering the government. This was seen in the instance of former Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
As on date, the UAE also operates military bases in Eritrea and Somaliland. The very fact that the petroleum-rich emirate is trying to wield power in regions that aren’t exactly its neighbors (but several thousands of miles away) seems to reinforce the idea that the UAE is up to something.
Furthermore, what’s alarming from an American intelligence perspective is that as seen in the past few years, then the UAE’s growing proximity to Russia and China, inarguably, two rival-states for the US cannot be turned a blind eye to.
The old theory that your enemy’s enemy is a friend seems to be the clear operating mantra between the UAE and regions like Russia with whom the nation is enjoying close-knit economic co-operations in the domains of oil and security.