Egypt and UAE condemn NKorea, buy its weapons anyway

Egypt and UAE condemn NKorea, buy its weapons anyway
The UAE and Egypt have both condemned North Korea for a recent nuclear test that has escalated tensions in East Asia, but both nations are among Pyongyang's leading Arab partners.
3 min read
05 Sep, 2017
Emirati and Egyptian condemnations of North Korea are not convincing given their history [AFP]
The UAE and Egypt's outrage at North Korea's nuclear test is unlikely to have an impact on their purchasing of weapons from Pyongyang - purchases which fund East Asia's most destabilising regime - despite warnings from the United States.

In an official statement on Monday, the UAE condemned North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, deeming it a "clear violation of the will and decisions of the international community".

The UAE said these recurrent nuclear tests pose not only a challenge to United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions and the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons agreements but also a real threat to global security and stability.

The UAE, a key engineer of the unlawful blockade against the neighbouring state of Qatar, even called on the UN to intervene "to address those violations that undermine peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.

The Emiratis called on all concerned parties to "pursue dialogue and diplomacy" - the same recipe Abu Dhabi has rejected in dealing with Qatar.

Egypt, who is involved in both the blockade of Qatar and the blockade of Gaza, similarly condemned North Korea's nuclear test, warning of "threats to regional security", and expressed worries that the escalating activity could unleash a nuclear arms race in the region.

But both the UAE and Egypt have done extensive business with the North Korean regime, including purchasing arms from Kim Jung-un, despite both being key allies of the United States. 

A leaked US State Department memo revealed recently that the UAE purchased $100 million worth of weapons from North Korea in June 2015 to support the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.

That deal included a shipment of rockets, machine guns and rifles that appear to have been sent to Yemen to support groups loyal to the UAE in the conflict there.

According to the memo, the US State Department warned Abu Dhabi that North Korea would use the money from its arms deal to finance its nuclear programme, the same one the UAE has now condemned.

According to The Diplomat, the UAE’s military links with Pyongyang date back to 1989, when Abu Dhabi purchased Scud-B missiles from North Korea.

The same publication said that even though Egypt has been a leading US ally in the Middle East since the 1970s, "Cairo remains one of Pyongyang’s leading trade partners in the Arab world." The report even linked a recent downgrading of US aid to Egypt to Cairo's cosy relations with Pyongyang. 

"Egypt’s Port Said remains a critical trans-shipment point for North Korean arms exports to Africa, [and] Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has upheld his predecessors’ North Korea policy and refused to enforce UN sanctions against Pyongyang."

Perhaps such close dealings with North Korea explain why both countries have rushed to verbally condemn their partner, to avoid the wrath of their new best friend in the White House and his Twitter fury.

Said al-Arabi is a pseudonym. The author resides in a jurisdiction where the publication of their identity may create a security or freedom of movement issue