UAE Government Fears Overthrow, Arrests 94
Photo: ITP.NetThe United Arab Emirates government recently arrested 94 people with charges of plotting to overthrow the government and seize power. Many of the men and women arrested have been accused of being members of Al-Islah, an Islamist group with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Along with their families, those arrested have witnessed a complete butchery of proper judicial procedure as many have been detained and held without access to lawyers and the without any key evidence being brought against them. These arrests have prompted many, such as Sarah Leah Whitson, the director of the Human Rights Watch Middle East (HRW), to criticize government authorities stating, "It appears that UAE authorities will drag scores of citizens through a shamelessly unfair judicial process that makes a mockery of justice." This shamelessness of the UAE government could be for several reasons but it appears, at least to the international community, that there is panic and fear within the UAE government of an outbreak of protests. The aftermath of the Arab Spring has left numerous countries' governments on edge, most notably that of the Saudi Arabian monarchy. The UAE is an incredibly wealthy nation due in part to rich oil reserves and ranks 13th in the world in GDP Per Capita ($49,000). This boom in wealth in the UAE coupled with the lack of representation and democracy is clearly putting pressure on the government. The UAE's risk of political protest and/or rebellion is a perplexing question due to the fact that we see a highly developing country experiencing an influx of wealth and a diversification of their economy's dependence on oil revenue (down to 25% of GDP) and yet UAE citizens remain servants to a government that is able to violate even basic judicial law. This violation of the judicial system is no doubt a reaction by the UAE government to the protests by citizens calling for greater political representation. One can predict that the UAE government will try to diffuse these growing tensions by injecting more wealth into the country via stimulus packages and even through increased tourism by hosting the U17 FIFA World Cup. Much like in Saudi Arabia, the question remains, can the UAE government and the various emirates continue to control the country in an authoritarian manner while UAE citizens are quickly becoming some of the richest and wealthiest people on the planet? In future months and in the upcoming years it will be interesting to see whether continued infringements of the judicial system will go unnoticed, or if it in fact provides the spark needed to generate political protest as UAE citizens seek to take control of their own economy.
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