By Keith Preston
The United Arab Emirates is rapidly emerging as an influential player in Middle Eastern politics, and geopolitical relationships in the region. The UAE has experienced a remarkable rise in influence over the course of the past few decades. However, for much of its history as an independent nation, the UAE maintained a stance on international relations that was largely one of neutrality. Under the leadership of the former president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, the country often served as a mediating force in conflicts between Arab or Islamic nations. Because of the UAE’s neutral stance, it was often referred to as the “Switzerland of the Middle East.” However, the foreign policy of the UAE underwent an abrupt change following the death of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan in 2004, and the ascension to power of his son, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Under the leadership of Mohammed bin Zayed, the UAE has rapidly abandoned its former neutral stance, and moved into an alliance with the American-Israeli-Saudi triangle, serving as an aggressive, disruptive, and destructive force in the Middle East in the process.