U.A.E. Authorities Expel Pro-Democracy NGOs
While over 40 representatives of international groups promoting democracy await trial in Egypt, U.A.E. authorities have issued similar decisions to U.A.E.-based NGOs to cease operation. This week, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), a German Think Tank that works to promote democracy abroad was commanded to close their office in Abu Dhabi. KAS said it had received “no understandable explanation” from U.A.E. authorities. German Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke declined to compare the decision to Egypt, saying that “the situations in the individual countries are too different. “After our experience in Egypt, we not only regret this decision, but consider it an alarm signal if non-governmental organizations and political foundations are increasingly unwanted in the Arab world,” said KAS chairmen Hans-Gert Poettering. Additionally, U.A.E. authorities shut down the local office of the National Democratic Institute, a U.S.-based pro-democracy non-governmental organization. The group recently opened its office in December and also has members facing trials in Egypt.
These are not the first organizations to have received such orders. The Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, a branch of the American poll and research firm, reportedly has shuttered operation in the U.A.E. Its U.A.E. website is reportedly blank and redirects readers to its department in Washington D.C.” Last year, authorities refused to renew the license of the Gulf Research Center, a social-science research group, after working in the Dubai for 10 years forcing the group to work from Geneva.
The U.A.E has remained immune to revolutionary protests, but has taken action to crack down on political dissidence. Examples include the case of five Emiratis sentenced to three-year prison terms for allegedly insulting the U.A.E. rulers and threatening state security. Additionally, the U.A.E revoked the citizenship of seven Emiratis who were all members of Al Islah, an Islamist group.
Political activism is heavily restricted in the Gulf States. There are no official opposition groups in any of the seven emirates.