A small state with big ambitions, the United Arab Emirates has become a major player in the Middle East region, especially since the Arab Spring. It played a major role in weakening the Muslim Brotherhood by supporting rulers like Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt and would-be leaders such as General Khalifa Haftar of Libya. Abu Dhabi was the critical player behind the blockade of Qatar in 2017, and it has taken a leading role in the normalization of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This article employs a range of theoretical perspectives, including structural realism and liberalism, to explain the UAE's foreign policy and behavior. It argues that there are at least four major drivers: combating political Islam, containing Iran, dominating regional ports and waterways, and increasing economic prosperity.
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