UAE sacks British military trainers 'over Arab uprising'
Dubai, May 24, 2014
The UAE has stopped using dozens of British nationals serving as trainers in its armed forces over its response to the Arab uprisings, says a report in Britain's Financial Times newspaper.
The clear-out of around 80 British officers working under a longstanding programme in which former British officers train UAE forces, is prompting some British officials to push for stronger military ties to reassure the UAE and other Gulf allies about the UK's commitment to regional security.
"We are political scapegoats," said one officer who, like others, did not have his contract renewed.
UAE and British officials deny political tensions are behind the officers' departure, saying the UAE's training needs have evolved. A small number of trainers' contracts have been renewed.
But the military contracts are the latest in a series of issues that appear to signal Gulf states' displeasure at what they believe is London's support for pro-democracy movements and Islamist groups in the region.
The UAE has also decided not to purchase Typhoon fighters, despite lobbying by David Cameron, the UK prime minister, and a UK nuclear submarine scheduled to visit Dubai in March was at the last minute refused permission to dock.
The UAE and other Gulf states charge that London has emerged as a base for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group.
Dissidents seeking asylum in the UK have become another thorn in relations with Gulf states.
Abu Dhabi has privately complained to the UK for granting asylum to Emirati activists who have fled the country since a crackdown on Islamists ended in the jailing of around 70 people last year for an alleged plot to bring down the government.