Although the United Arab Emirates’ list of designated terrorist organizations has raised questions about who it does and does not include, officials see the move as necessary for the Arabian Gulf sheikhdom.
The list approved by the UAE Cabinet on Nov. 15 includes 83 organizations, including the Washington-based Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Serbian non profit group CANVAS and the Houthi movement in Yemen. The list, however, excludes Lebanese Hezbollah and Gaza- based Hamas.
“Some of the most prominent groups on the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations are included on the UAE list, so Washington will likely view that as a positive and encouraging development in the fight against terror,” said David Weinberg, a senior fellow at Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Weinberg said that the detail in the UAE’s list shows that a greater level of care went into it than Saudi Arabia’s list in March.
“There are almost 10 times as many entities on the UAE list than the Saudi one. Unfortunately, there were a few disappointing elements to the UAE list from an American perspective,” he said.
US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke responded to the list, saying, “We have examined the list of organizations that were classified as terrorist groups that was published by the United Arab Emirates a few days ago, and we are aware that two of the organizations on that list are based in the United States. We are trying to get information on the reasons behind this decision.”
The UAE has not publicized its reasons for the inclusion of CAIR and the Muslim American Society.
“It’s a bit surprisingly to see the UAE going after CAIR, MAS, Cordoba and Muslim communal groups in at least seven European countries given that in the past the UAE had engaged with and reportedly even funded some of these groups,” Weinberg said.