For many years, the United Arab Emirates has been one of Washington’s most repressive military allies. Its brutal targeting of human rights defenders, its leadership role with Saudi Arabia in the war on Yemen, and its crushing of any internal political dissent has made it a focus of Human Rights First’s advocacy for a decade.
I visited the Emirates for Human Rights First in 2015 to research how bad things were, and things have only become worse — the few activists who weren’t intimidated into silence in 2015 have now been pushed into exile or sentenced to long terms in prison.
Washington continues to enable the Emirates’ dictatorship with weapons and political support; in April the Biden administration confirmed it would proceed with a $23 billion arms deal. But having powerful friends in Washington, and pushing Dubai’s glitzy image of tourism and shopping, can’t hide the reality of what really happens in the UAE.
Click below or listen here to my appearance on a podcast by the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) for more on what’s happening in the UAE behind their PR mask.