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United Arab Emirates departs from US led partnership Combined Maritime Forces.

| 2023

According to information published by the Emirati MFA on May 25, 2023, the UAE made the decision to withdraw its participation in the Combined Maritime Forces as part of its ongoing evaluation of effective security cooperation with all partners.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 United Arab Emirates Navy's Falaj 2-class patrol vessel Ganthoot conducts a personnel transfer with USS Sirocco. (Picture source: CMF)

This decision may impact the US-UAE military relations, which currently include the presence of three US military bases in the UAE: Al Dhafra Air Base, Al Minhad Air Base, and Fujairah Naval Base. A major military hospital is also under construction, symbolizing a deep-rooted military partnership between the two nations.

However, relations between the two countries have experienced strains due to UAE's interaction with China. In 2021, the UAE signed a $23 billion weapons deal with the US.

Despite this, concerns were raised over the UAE's ties with China and the potential risks to US military technology. The US had made a series of demands, including ensuring the security of US military technology, maintaining Israel's military edge, and limiting the use of acquired weapons in conflict zones like Yemen and Libya. They also requested the removal of Chinese Huawei Technologies from the UAE's telecommunications network.

In reaction to these demands, the UAE suspended discussions over the arms deal and opened talks with China for military hardware. Furthermore, the US has been applying pressure on the UAE, along with Egypt, to tackle the presence of Russia's Wagner Group in Libya and Sudan, following the expansion of US sanctions on the Russian group for its role in Ukraine's conflict.

The CMF, which the UAE is exiting, has been a significant force in maintaining the Rule-Based International Order (RBIO), with a particular focus on countering illegal maritime activities.

It is renowned for its operations against narcotics, smuggling, and piracy, and for promoting regional partnerships. The CMF has been instrumental in enhancing maritime security and ensuring the smooth flow of commerce in key maritime regions, primarily through the collective efforts of its 38 member nations. The impact of UAE's decision on CMF operations and US-UAE relations is yet to be fully understood.

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