The UAE’s ambassador to Washington Yousef al Otaiba has mocked Saudi Arabia’s leadership in one of a series of leaked emails that suggest years of Emirati frustration with Riyadh’s old regime that has coalesced into a clear strategy to usurp it by bolstering the rise of the young Mohammed bin Salman, according to the UK-based Middle East Eye (MEE).
The messages, obtained by MEE through the GlobalLeaks hacking group, show Otaiba mocking Saudi Arabia.
In an email Otaiba wrote that Abu Dhabi has warred for 200 years with the Saudis over Wahhabism and that the Emiratis had more”bad history” with Saudi Arabia than anyone else.
In yet another email, he revealed that now was the time when the Emiratis could get”the most results we can ever get out of Saudi”.
But the bulk of the exchanges add up to more than casual reflections and snipes by an Emirati ambassador.
They betray a clear plan by Abu Dhabi to paint Saudi Arabia as a dysfunctional, religiously conservative backwater whose best hope for reform was Mohammed bin Salman, the newly-appointed crown prince.
Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, regards himself as MBS’s mentor and the two have been known to hold up to three meetings a month, a source told MEE.
Otaiba is clear in his emails that the arrival of the 31-year-old MBS as crown prince earlier this year was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Emiratis to stamp their mark on their much larger neighbour. This is also corroborated by informed sources who spoke to MEE on condition of anonymity.
And the mosaic painted by Otaiba’s leaked emails and multiple MEE sources confirm that the Emirati ambassador has performed the lead role in selling the 31-year-old Saudi prince to a sceptical Washington audience, while the Saudi embassy was almost totally passive.
Saudi ministers were cut out of the loop when MBS and his brother Khaled flew for a secret meeting to see US President Donald Trump at his Bedminster golf club just weeks before the US president’s visit to Riyadh, MEE can reveal.
On May 21 this year, Otaiba wrote to the influential New York Times columnist Tom Friedman:”Abu Dhabi fought 200 years of wars with Saudi over Wahhabism. We have more bad history with Saudi than anyone. But with MBS we see a genuine change. And that’s why we’re excited. We finally see hope there and we need it to succeed.”