The Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, was elected President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today, informs AFP.
The prince, known by the initials MBZ, was already considered the de facto leader of the UAE. He will replace his half-brother, Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who died on Friday.
The new president was elected by the Supreme Council of the Federation of Emirates, the official news agency WAM reported, taken over by AFP, quoted by Agerpres.
Reuters reports that the 61-year-old MBZ has turned the UAE army into a high-tech force, which, along with oil resources and a global business hub, has helped increase the UAE’s international influence.
Former US ambassador to Abu Dhabi Barbara Leaf says the prince has “a somewhat fatalistic line of thinking” that Persian Gulf leaders can no longer rely on the United States, their main supporter in the past, especially after Washington he ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring, the 2011 wave of protest movements.
MBZ backed in 2013 the ousting of President-elect Mohammed Mursi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, following a coup. He is also known for promoting Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who consolidated his power in Riyadh with a palace coup in 2017.
Educated in his home country and at the Sandhurst Military College for Officers in the United Kingdom, MBZ became increasingly distrustful of Islamists, especially after two of his compatriots took part in the attacks of September 11, 2001. In 2007, at a meeting with American officials, he told them, according to Wikileaks:
“I am Arab, I am Muslim and I pray. And in the 1970s and early 1980s I was one of them. I think these individuals have a plan. ”
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