The United Arab Emirates’ national security advisor visited Iran today. Leaders in both countries have signaled a desire to reduce tensions between Iran and Arab states in the Gulf.
Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed visited Tehran upon the invitation of Ali Shamkhani, who heads Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. Zayed discussed improving Iran-UAE relations and unspecified regional issues with Iranian officials. He also held a meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Raisi’s administration wants to improve ties with Iran’s neighbors, including Arab states in the Gulf, according to the agency.
The UAE and Iran are divided on many issues. The UAE is a close ally of Iran’s geopolitical foes Saudi Arabia and Israel. The UAE is a nominal member of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which fights the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Abu Dhabi is also concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, and the two states have a territorial dispute over three islands in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
On the other hand, Emirati officials have signaled a desire to have warm relations with Iran recently. Diplomatic adviser Anwar Gargash said in November that his government was working to de-escalate tensions with Iran. The same month, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani said Iran “agreed to open a new chapter” with the Emirates. Raisi also expressed a “heartfelt amity” towards the UAE during his inauguration speech in August.
In 2020, diplomats from both countries met to discuss cooperation on fighting COVID-19. Some UAE-based companies have also allegedly conducted oil deals with Iran, according to the US government.