Saturday, April 16, 2011

Davidson's strongly worded critique

In Foreign Policy, Christopher Davidson says the UAE is verging on a police state, and that the recent detentions of UAE citizens is only evidence of a core problem. I agree the recent detentions are both unnecessary and reactionary, but I'm withholding endorsement of his larger argument. But the argument deserves a hearing, and I hope UAE citizens are not barred access.

The title and subtitle:
Making of a Police State

Over the last few years, the UAE has become increasingly oppressive. The recent crackdowns show how bad it really is.


The tough language:
Previously a collection of federated, tribe-based, traditional monarchies, led by the well-liked Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan until his death in 2004, the UAE has since been morphing into a sophisticated police state led by Zayed's two principal sons from their Abu Dhabi power base -- the UAE's oil-rich, wealthiest emirate. Unlike their father, who had to consult with other tribal elders and powerful merchants across the entire country, the new rulers now govern with zero accountability over an increasingly urbanized and Abu Dhabi-dependent population, the movements and communications of which are now carefully monitored and censored.
Where's the evidence for that claim? For me it's unproven.

But the UAE's role in putting down dissent in Bahrain, plus detentions of its own citizens are enough for me to agree with Davidson that
...questions should have already been asked by those world-leading institutions -- many of which are based in democratic states -- that cooperate closely with the current regime, in return for generous wealth transfers and other benefits. Perhaps now their question mark will be a bit bigger. The UAE's rulers draw massive legitimacy from these external links...
Read it all.

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