Radha Stirling comments on the broader implications of the Princess Haya story:
“The impact of Princess Haya’s escape from Dubai, and from her marriage to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, cannot be underestimated. We have already seen that the Ruler of Dubai is willing to mobilise state power, military resources, and diplomatic connections to manage his personal scandals and exert control over his family. When his daughter Sheikha Latifa escaped the UAE last March, he launched a joint military raid in international waters against a civilian vessel, kidnapped multiple foreign nationals, and abducted Latifa. He utilised Princess Haya’s connections in the human rights community, namely Mary Robinson, to stage a media event with a listless and dazed Latifa several months later, in an attempt to counter the scathing criticism he received over Latifa’s story.
“Considering the fact that Princess Haya is a member of the Jordanian Royal Family, and Jordan’s relationship with the UAE; there are obviously profound ramifications to this situation. There has already been talk from the Emirates of imposing sanctions on Jordan if they do not undertake to return Haya to the UAE. Sheikh Mohammed is willing to sever ties with one of the UAE’s staunchest allies in its blockade of Qatar, a friend of the United States; and impose economic punishment against an entire country, because of his private domestic dispute.
“Sheikh Mohammed has launched a lawsuit in the UK to demand custody of Haya’s children. It is inevitable that in her defence, Princess Haya will testify in court about all she knows regarding Sheikh Mohammed’s treatment of Latifa, and likely of Sheikha Shamsa as well; whom he had kidnapped off the streets of England 19 years ago when she tried to escape. It is even conceivable that the court could call for testimony from Latifa herself. Indeed, whatever is revealed in the proceedings could very well lead to criminal charges against Sheikh Mohammed.
“At this point, the leadership of the UAE in Abu Dhabi must be discussing, not how to solve a problem named Haya, but a problem named Sheikh Mohammed. His behaviour has become increasingly erratic and despotic, and the image of the whole country is suffering because of it. The stability of the government has always been a key point for the UAE in attracting foreign investors; but with a seemingly endless stream of personal scandals, all of which have been disastrously managed, the stability of Mohammed bin Rashid’s reign is now open to question.”
Radha Stirling, is founder and CEO of UK / USA based legal and human rights organisation Detained in Dubai, Expert Witness and respected analyst of Middle East Policy.
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