Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Someone was set up

Here's a strange one. The Ambassador from the UAE to the USA did a public interview with Jeffrey Goldberg from The Atlantic at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. But the Washington Times is first out of the block with actual quotes and the apparent scoop -- that the UAE would rather see an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities than have Iran with nuclear weapons. The Washington Times was remarkably efficient in getting approving quotes from a usual suspects list (e.g. John Bolton), while National Review's Cliff May hails "an Arab neocon."

Now Goldberg himself is a tad more circumspect although he also recognizes the Iran scoop in the quotes. But the UAE government has rushed out an official statement denying the imputed meaning of the quotes, if not the quotes themselves --

"These statements came as part of general discussions held on the sidelines of an unofficial gathering and were taken out of their context in which Mr. Otaiba was speaking," the senior official said. "Iran is a neighboring country and we maintain historic relations with it." He stressed that "the UAE respects and believes in the sovereignty of other states and in the principle of non-interference, of all forms, in their internal affairs." "Already, the UAE declared, more than one time and in official statements issued by the Foreign Ministry, its position on the Iranian nuclear issue," Al-Haidan added.

"The UAE totally rejects the use of force as a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue and rather calls for a solution through political means that are based on the international legitimacy, transparency as well as the need for working, through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on the right of all states to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

All that can be said at this point is that Ambassador seems to have been a tad unaware of the hornets nest he was walking into. So let's see the transcript and perhaps the likely "recall for consultations". Worth watching.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal says that there were two sets of remarks, one in public to Goldberg and another on the sidelines (and perhaps off the record) to the Washington Times.

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