UAE's Washington ambassador Otaiba: Saudi leaders are crazy

UAE's Washington ambassador Otaiba: Saudi leaders are crazy
3 min read
19 August, 2017
The United Arab Emirates' ambassador to Washington has mocked Saudi Arabia as "f***in coo coo!" in the latest series of emails to be leaked from the controversial diplomat.
A series of e-mails from Yousef Al-Otaiba's account were leaked. [Getty]
The United Arab Emirates' ambassador to Washington has mocked Saudi Arabia as "f***in coo coo!" in the latest series of emails to be leaked from the controversial diplomat.

Yousef al-Otaiba's emails were hacked and released in part in June, with several revealing stories emerging about the UAE's covert operations.

The hackers, who go by the name "Global Leaks", claim the full database shows a clear picture of the UAE's lobbying arm and its detrimental effects on US interests abroad.

The latest leaked emails were obtained by Middle East Eye via GlobalLeaks and show Otaiba ridiculing Saudi Arabia in a series of exchanges with his wife Abeer Shoukry over the Kingdom's decision in 2008 to ban red roses on Valentine's Day.

"That whole country is f***in coo coo!" he writes in one email obtained by MEE.

A series of further emails obtained by the news site show a pattern of casual digs at Saudi Arabia, with one saying the UAE had more "bad history" with the Kingdom than any other country.

"Abu Dhabi fought 200 years of wars with Saudi over Wahhabism. We have more bad history with Saudi than anyone," Otaiba allegedly wrote to New York Times columnist Tom Friedman in May.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are close allies, with the emirates a key member of a Saudi-led coalition which cut ties with Qatar on 5 June.

The UAE is also an integral member of a Saudi coalition waging war in Yemen.

Abu Dhabi has been accused of running secret prisons in the country, with UAE forces allegedly committing arbitrary detentions, torture and enforced disappearances.

Lobbying for MBS

Otaiba's email exchanges also reveal a strategy of support for Mohammed bin Salman, who was installed as crown prince in June to replace Mohammed bin Nayef as successor to the throne.

"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," Otaiba wrote to NYT columnist Friedman, according to MEE.

A month earlier, Otaiba had written to Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel, calling the Saudi prince a "pragmatic leader" who should be engaged with.

The UAE ambassador also wrote to Steven Cook, a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, calling bin Salman a "reformer".

"He believes in very much what we in the UAE believe in. Empowering young people, making govt accountable," Otaiba said in the emails obtained by MEE.

King Salman, 81, named his son Mohammed bin Salman crown prince after firing Mohammed bin Nayef, the 57-year-old nephew of the Saudi king.

Despite the Saudi court's best efforts to paint the handover as a smooth transition, speculation was rife at the time about a palace coup.

Bin Nayef was reportedly confined to his palace and barred from travelling abroad after he was replaced by the king's son as the crown prince.

Bin Salman also reportedly exploited the prince's alleged addiction to painkillers to pressure him to stand down, Reuters reported.