‘Treachery and treason’: Iran threatens UAE on heels of Israeli visit

The United Arab Emirates’ “treason will not last for long,” commented Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with regard to the Gulf state’s new peace agreement with Israel.

By Associated Press

Jared Kushner and U.S. officials visited a major air base in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, speaking to Emirati and American pilots on the tarmac, as Iran’s supreme leader called the UAE’s recognition of Israel “treason that will not last for long.”

State media in Iran broadcast Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s remarks, which referred the UAE’s recognition of Israel as a “stain” on the country.

“The United Arab Emirates committed treachery against either the Islamic world or Arab nations and regional countries, as well as Palestine,” Khamenei said. “The treason will not last for long.”

The U.S.-brokered deal to establish diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE reflects a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about the Iranian threat have overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.

The U.S. and its allies promoted the deal as furthering regional peace and stability, but the belligerent threat by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei underlined the Islamic Republic’s intent to stymie warming relations between the Arab world and Israel.

The U.S. delegation, headed by Kushner, arrived in the UAE on an El Al plane on Monday in the first-ever direct commercial passenger flight between the two countries. The flight followed an agreement brokered by the Trump administration last month that saw the two countries agree to establish diplomatic relations.

The Israeli delegation returned home Tuesday after a quick visit that included a series of high-level meetings, while Kushner continued on to Bahrain, where he met King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the state-run BNA news agency reported.

King Hamad “praised the steadfast, historic stances of the United Arab Emirates” in ensuring Palestinian rights, BNA said. Kushner has expressed optimism that other Arab countries will soon follow the UAE in establishing official ties with Israel, even in the absence of a peace deal with the Palestinians.

While at the base near Abu Dhabi, Kushner and U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien met Emirati Maj. Gen. Falah al-Qahtani, a top defense official. Thousands of American troops work at the base.

“Our relationship has been built on trust and mutual support,” al-Qahtani told reporters. “We have stood together to fight extremism in all of its forms.”

O’Brien added that the U.S. expected a “significant security aspect” in the Israel-UAE normalization, without elaborating. Journalists also toured a joint command center run by both the U.S. and the UAE at the site.

“May the relationship with America continue to grow and together, through strength, will benefit as we bring more peace and prosperity to the Middle East and beyond!” Kushner wrote in a message left at the base.

Both the UAE and Israel share a mutual need to defend against the Iranian threat. The UAE’s day-to-day ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, long has warned about Iran’s intentions, particularly its nuclear program. That’s a concern shared by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who regularly rings the alarm over Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

An Emirati official dismissed Khamenei’s comments.

“The path to peace and prosperity is not through incitement and hate speech,” Foreign Ministry official Jamal al-Musharakh said. “That kind of rhetoric is counterproductive to peace in the region.”

OnTuesday, Netanyahu issued a statement saying the two countries signed an agreement on banking and finance.

“These understandings will help us advance mutual investments and broad cooperation,” Netanyahu said.