In May 2013, the chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin E. Dempsey, traveled to Abu Dhabi to speak with his Emirati counterpart, Army Lieutenant General Hamad Thani al-Rumaithi, as well as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who serves as deputy supreme commander of all armed forces in the United Arab Emirates.
These military professionals opened a dialogue on integrating American and Emirati capabilities to improve security for both nations. Understanding that cooperation is the key to calming instability in the Middle East, both nations have already integrated air and missile defense, command, and control. The Middle East remains a crucial region both economically and politically, which reinforces the importance of such a collaboration.
The UAE belongs to the Gulf Cooperation Council, which also includes among its members Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait. By increasing collaboration with Emirati forces, the U.S. can strengthen ties with these other nations. While the U.S. has long enjoyed positive relations with all members of the council, General Dempsey does not underestimate the power of renewing and reinforcing the country’s existing partnerships.
In an outreach to the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the Armed Forces, in Abu Dhabi in February 2014. Their meeting, which also included Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba, and U.S. Ambassador to the UAE Michael Corbin, focused on regional security issues.
The dignitaries discussed several pressing issues regarding regional security and peace, including Iran’s nuclear program and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria.
The visit was one of two to the UAE by U.S. secretaries within a month. On March 5, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visited the UAE on a trade mission, the first by a sitting secretary in more than a decade. Economic and security partnerships are two of the most important areas of relations between the U.S. and the UAE. In fact, 2013 marked the fifth consecutive year that the UAE received more American exports than any nation in the Middle East and North Africa region.