Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/04/2012 -- BMI's latest UAE Defence & Security Report for Q4 2012 examines the country's strategic position in the Middle East and the wider world. It provides an overview of the contemporary geopolitical challenges facing the country, and the challenges it may face in the future, especially in the context of tensions with Iran and of the Arab Spring.
In addition, the report examines the trends occurring in the country's current and future defence procurement, and the order of battle across its armed forces. The general conclusion is that the UAE will continue to invest heavily in defence procurement, spending more than all the other countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with the exception of Saudi Arabia and so giving itself a capability edge over many of its neighbours in spite of the relatively modest size of its armed forces.
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The UAE will also remain a key partner of the US as Washington sets out its vision of a post-Iraq, post- Afghanistan presence in the Middle East. While this will boost Emirati security in some respects, it will also antagonise some regional rivals, notably Iran. The recent stationing of US Air Force stealth fighters in the UAE was a case in point.
However, the opening of a new oil pipeline that bypasses the Strait of Hormuz - which Iran again recently threatened to block - greatly reduces the economic risk to the UAE should a conflict with Iran erupt. The country's military bases used by US forces remain potential Iranian targets, however. The rollout of advanced missile defence systems procured from the US should further reduce this risk also.
Over the last quarter BMI has revised the following forecasts/views:
- BMI has reviewed the UAE's latest military procurements. These include a significant order for armoured vehicles from US firm Oshkosh, and the launching of a new class of domestically developed missile boat.
- Tensions with Iran over its nuclear programme are discussed in detail, both in terms of the UAE's bilateral problems with Tehran, and also of its involvement in the wider standoff by virtue of its status as a GCC member and US ally.
- The UAE's alleged assistance to rebel fighters in Syria also appeared to have been substantiated when TV news footage showed a rebel fighter holding a hand grenade that Swiss firm RUAG had supplied to the UAE back in 2003. Switzerland said it was freezing arms sales to the UAE pending an investigation.
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