In ECSSR Lecture No. 758 McKenzie: “The UAE Is an Important Member of the GCC and a Leader in the Arab World”

On Wednesday, October 7, 2020, the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) organized lecture 758, titled ‘The Strategic Importance of the Arabian Gulf Region and the Middle East’, delivered by General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., Commander of the United States Central Command. The lecture, which attracted a wide audience, was broadcast on the ECSSR’s YouTube channel and Twitter page.

McKenzie began his lecture by shedding light on the US Central Command’s geographical area of responsibility, which stretches from Northeast Africa across the Middle East to Central and South Asia. He described this area as one of the most complex and dynamic regions in the world and of great concern in terms of regional stability and security, due to the threat of terrorism and religious extremism and the destabilizing efforts of Iran and its proxies, which requires unique solutions.

Regarding the impact of the Abraham Accords on regional stability, General McKenzie said that the Department of Defense applauds this historic step to normalize relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, as improved relations between these two key US defense partners advances US and regional security interests. He added that the UAE is an important member of the GCC and a leader in the Arab world.

Evaluating the UAE’s security and military cooperation with the US in the region, General McKenzie said the US-UAE relationship is extremely strong, stressing that the UAE is a key partner to the US and is an active and important contributor to promoting security and stability throughout the region. General McKenzie added that the US national defense strategy places great importance on working with effective, capable partners, such as the UAE, to advance regional security and stability. He stressed that the US remains firmly committed to this goal.

Regarding current tensions with Iran, General McKenzie sought to dispel the myth that the United States’ military presence and actions in the Central Command’s area of responsibility contribute to escalating tensions with Iran. He emphasized that the greatest threat to security and stability in the region is clearly Iran, due to their funding of terrorism and terrorist organizations, the provision of advanced weapons to the Houthis in Yemen, and their direct attacks on international oil tankers in the strait of Hormuz, refineries in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and US troops in Iraq.

General McKenzie said that no nation is more capable than the US of rapidly delivering combat forces wherever and whenever they are needed globally. He said US allies and partners should be comforted by this, and warned any potential adversaries to strongly consider their actions,  which could lead to conflict with the United States.