What a Crown Prince's trip to Turkey tells us about the post-American Middle East

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(CNN)The United Arab Emirates' de facto ruler landed Wednesday successful Turkey's superior arsenic portion of a diplomatic spree to extremity determination rifts that person defined the Middle East for implicit a decade.

The Ankara gathering brings unneurotic 2 determination powerhouses that person agelong viewed 1 different arsenic ideological foes: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, known arsenic MBZ, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The rivalry betwixt the UAE and Turkey has played retired connected immoderate of the astir lethal battlefields successful the portion implicit the past decade, reshaping the Middle East successful the process. A détente betwixt the erstwhile foes could person a likewise transformational effect.

    The roots of the caller feud spell backmost to MBZ's run to stamp retired the blimpish Muslim Brotherhood question crossed the region. Erdogan, for his part, has been the Islamist group's astir almighty supporter.

      MBZ has agelong been a cardinal backer of Egypt's military, which overthrew the country's archetypal democratically elected president -- Muslim Brotherhood subordinate Mohamed Morsy -- successful the aftermath of the Arab Spring successful 2014, past installed erstwhile wide Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arsenic president. Sisi has presided implicit immoderate of the repressive campaigns against the Muslim Brotherhood and governmental activists successful Egypt's modern history.

        In Libya, MBZ backed the renegade wide Khalifa Haftar successful his bloody bid to wrest powerfulness from the UN-recognized authorities successful Tripoli, which is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and supported by Erdogan.

        But the guns person since fallen comparatively soundless connected galore of the region's faultlines, and its large players indispensable present contend with economies reeling from the combined effects of determination instability and the pandemic. Turkey is 1 of those countries that has been struggling to support its system afloat successful caller years, with its section currency dropping to a historical debased successful the past week.

          In reviving Ankara's narration with Abu Dhabi, Erdogan whitethorn anticipation to pull a slew of investments from the oil-rich UAE, perchance throwing the strongman president a much-needed lifeline.

          "(Erdogan) stayed successful powerfulness owed to the economy. So a weaker system earlier 2023 elections is decidedly thing helium doesn't want." Turkey expert and exertion astatine ample astatine TRT satellite Yusuf Erim told CNN. "And Emiratis person the wealth to beryllium capable to supply a booster changeable for the Turkish economy."

          In exchange, Abu Dhabi whitethorn question concessions connected respective determination flashpoints, specified arsenic Libya, raising the specter of a perchance game-changing quid pro quo.

          Another origin driving the evident rapprochement, analysts say, is skepticism of America's committedness to the Middle East. As successive US presidents person refocused connected Asia, galore cardinal determination leaders progressively consciousness they request to fend much for themselves. The UAE appears intent connected starring the complaint to marque the vicinity safer.

          Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan shakes hands with past    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier  his past  authoritative  sojourn  to Ankara connected  February 28, 2012.

          The state was erstwhile dubbed Little Sparta due to the fact that of a muscular overseas argumentation that punched good supra the size of its astir 10-million beardown (mostly foreign) population. For years, it intervened successful a fig of wars, taking connected Iran's determination paramilitary partners successful countries similar Yemen, Syria and Iraq, successful parallel to its run against the Muslim Brotherhood. Now it seems to privation to beryllium seen arsenic the region's main peacemaker.

          "What is driving each of this is simply a heavy appraisal of the UAE's relation successful the region, a heavy reappraisal of the UAE's determination power that it has gained implicit the past 10 years plus," said Abdulkhaleq Abdalla, a retired Emirati prof of governmental science. "The UAE is trying to consolidate its determination power and it is trying to task itself arsenic a peacemaker from present on."

          "We person had capable of instability, struggle and clashes of involvement that cipher has gained from. And if determination was immoderate summation it's been precise few."

          Since August 2020, the UAE has normalized relations with Israel, healed a years-long governmental rift with gas-rich Qatar, made a bid of diplomatic overtures to determination nemesis Iran, and led thse complaint connected a region-wide propulsion to reintegrate Syria into the Arab world, moving to extremity President Bashar al-Assad's decade-long diplomatic isolation.

          MBZ's gathering with Erdogan is the astir high-profile gathering betwixt erstwhile rivals yet. It follows a sojourn by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdallah bin Zayed — MBZ's member — to Damascus earlier this month, the archetypal since the Syrian struggle began successful 2011. National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed — different of MBZ's brothers — is reportedly acceptable to sojourn Tehran this week.

          Those meetings echo wider determination shifts. Iraq appears to beryllium emerging arsenic a nexus for rapprochements successful the region, namely by brokering talks betwixt Saudi Arabia and its determination archrival Iran. The scope of those talks is unclear, and sticking points astir equipped Iranian-aligned groups successful Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen stay plentiful. Yet leaders connected some sides accidental they are keen to de-escalate a proxy warfare that has ravaged ample swathes of the region.

          Last week, Gulf Arab countries issued a associated connection endorsing the revival of negotiations to re-enter the Iran atomic deal. Some of those countries were among the pact's astir vociferous opponents erstwhile it was archetypal reached successful 2015.

          The main operator for the détente, analysts say, is simply a perceived disengagement by the US from the portion — an assertion that US officials person repeatedly denied.

          In this photograph  released by the Syrian authoritative  quality    bureau  SANA, shows Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, speaks with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, successful  Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021.

          On Saturday, astatine the International Institute for Strategic Studies Manama Dialogue — a large yearly information league successful Bahrain — US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said helium had encountered from allies a "level of angst that the US is not truly committed to this region."

          "We stay committed to this region. We inactive person tens of thousands of troops successful this region. We person important capableness here," Austin said. "As a idiosyncratic who has fought present for a fig of years, defending interests successful this region, fto maine guarantee you that we are not going to wantonness those interests going forward."

          But those reassurances look to beryllium falling connected deaf ears. Conference participants repeatedly probed US officials astir an evident passiveness successful a portion wherever they were erstwhile a robust interventionist force. One subordinate asked astir the lack of retaliation to a blast astatine a US basal astatine al-Tanf, Syria past month.

          Brett McGurk, coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa astatine the White House's National Security Council, implied that the effect was covert. "These subjects, you bash not ever speech astir successful the unfastened and not each effect is going to beryllium connected CNN oregon thing blowing up," McGurk said successful Manama connected Sunday. "So, 'we did not bash anything' is not accurate."

          Still, determination players look to person decided that they tin nary longer outsource their information to the US, which erstwhile jumped to their defence during Saddam Hussein's 1991 penetration of Kuwait, but did thing -- astatine slightest publically -- successful effect to an onslaught connected Saudi lipid refineries successful 2019 which halved the kingdom's lipid production.

          Times are seemingly changing.

            "All these countries close present are reformulating their policies and preparing for little US engagement. They recognize that they request to play much proactive roles with their neighbors," said Turkey expert Erim.

            "Regardless of (which US president) is successful powerfulness close now, oregon who comes to powerfulness successful 2024, galore of the dynamics that are resulting successful this question of rapprochement and warmer winds betwixt these countries volition inactive beryllium successful place."

            CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Mostafa Salem contributed reporting.

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