I have had the privilege of knowing His Royal Highness, Mohammed bin Zayed. I have met with him in the past. And when I was the commander of the US Air Forces and the coalition in the Middle East Air Forces, I met with him in private several times. I think he's at that very least in the top five leaders in the world visionary, and he's the primary leader in the Middle East that's changed things. The Abraham Accords are just another step in that direction. He is also intelligent enough to know that he is a small country, although his people are like the small Israeli group and small country but competent. I think his curse is concerned just like anybody that's a monarchy. They want to remain in power because they believe that that's the right thing. And his number one priority is to stay in control, not at all costs. He takes care of his people. I've been to the Emirates many, many times. The people in the Emirates love their leadership. Frankly, just like in Saudi Arabia, the young people are behind His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman. I think Mohammed bin Zayed is one of the great leaders in the world; between him and MBS, and other leaders in the region, particularly Israel under the Abraham Accords, if that continues to mature, is going to be the change our world for all of us.
His Royal Highness, Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed’s objective is to eliminate threats. That's part of the stability part; eliminate some of those threats. He's also a realist. If we're waffling in the US and our policy, and we aren't consistent, he doesn't have the faith and trust that will be there. If his country is threatened, then he will do within reason anything he can to develop a capability to defend the country. And, there are issues that he's reached out to Russia and China; based on our waffling as far as how much support we're given the UAE, our foreign policy needs to be a bit more real political. We need to be realistic about the Middle East, and it's still imperative. It will remain essential, not go away. And it's in our best interest to have strong leadership there that is inclined to think as we do; if you will, more monarchies are not democracies, but they do take care of their people.
The Air Force power of the UAE is as good as anybody. They're for how what size they are. They're excellent. They've got outstanding leadership. They've got ideal equipment, they've got great doctrine. I'm not going to evaluate them against the Israelis or the US, let's say, but they're certainly way better than the Iranians or any other country in the GCC. Let's say they are the best.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gen. Charles F. "Chuck" Wald is Deputy Commander, Headquarters U.S. European Command, Stuttgart, Germany. USEUCOM is responsible for all U.S. forces operating across 91 countries in Europe, Africa, Russia, parts of Asia and the Middle East, and most of the Atlantic Ocean.