DUBAI (Reuters) – A senior United Arab Emirates official said on Saturday it was encouraging to see greater European outreach to Gulf Arab states in the face of the Ukraine conflict and energy crunch, but that engagement should not be “transactional”.
A number of European officials have visited Gulf countries to secure energy supplies outside of former top provider Russia after the West imposed sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
“What we’re hearing, especially from the Germans and others, about reengaging with the Gulf, I am encouraged but I would warn that it should not be transactional,” Anwar Gargash, the diplomatic advisor to the president of the UAE, told the World Policy Conference in Abu Dhabi.
“I think that language is partly driven by self-interest — trying to find new gas providers, new oil providers,” he said. “We need to see actions… it has to be long term and strategic.”
Gargash reiterated a call for “explicit” security assurances from traditional Western allies, especially in dealing with the threat from Iranian drones that Gulf states have long warned about.
It was not until these weapons “made it into the Ukraine theatre” that they were “catapulted” into the spotlight, and “suddenly the world rediscovered this issue”, Gargash said.
Western states have accused Russia of using Iranian drones to attack targets in Ukraine, which Tehran and Moscow have denied.