DUBAI - Sunni Muslim-ruled Gulf Arab states are often wary of subversion
from their powerful Shi'ite neighbor Iran, but Dubai's veteran police
chief reserves most of his wrath for the "dictators" of the Muslim
Dhahi Khalfan's suspicions focus mostly on the
Egyptian branch of the Sunni Islamist organization, propelled to power
in the most populous Arab country in elections since the overthrow of
President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising in 2011.
Brotherhood as a ruling party in Egypt has no right to interfere with
other countries. They are no longer a political party and should respect
the independence of other countries," Khalfan told Reuters in an
interview this week.
He reiterated charges that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood was linked to an
alleged plot to topple the UAE government, saying the group's ultimate
goal was Islamist rule in all Gulf states.
has often railed against the Brotherhood on his Twitter account, is one
of only a few UAE officials to speak publicly about politics.
he says his tweets are personal views, diplomats say they reflect
concerns among the UAE ruling elite about the regional popularity of
Islamists and the possibility that the West will engage with them.
Khalfan complained that the West "sympathies, adopts and supports" the Brotherhood, saying he did not understand why.
stance testifies to new tensions in the Arab world arising from two
years of popular ferment that has unseated autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt,
Libya and Yemen, although it has so far spared US-allied dynasties in
the Gulf and elsewhere.
Khalfan, one of the Gulf's longest
serving security officials, defended a trial of the 94 alleged Emirati
plotters that human rights groups have criticized as unfair.
are dictators," he said of the Brotherhood, which is banned in the UAE,
a wealthy, politically stable federation of seven emirates including
free-wheeling global trade hub Dubai.
"They want to change
regimes that have been ruling for a long time, but they also want to
rule forever...We have evidence this group was planning to overthrow
rulers in the Gulf region."
He said the defendants, who include
lawyers, teachers, judges and a member of the ruling family of one of
the emirates, had reached an advanced stage in their alleged conspiracy.
Foreign reporters and international human rights groups have not been allowed to attend the trial that began on March 4.
newspapers have said the defendants belong to al-Islah, a local
Islamist group. Al-Islah says it wants peaceful reforms and has no
direct links to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, although it acknowledges
that its ideology is similar.
"The UAE...acted at the right time
to stop the Muslim Brotherhood plan that is being directed by the
Murshid," Khalfan said, referring to Egypt's Brotherhood leader Mohamed
The Brotherhood in Egypt, one of whose members, Mohamed
Morsi, was elected head of state in June, rejected Khalfan's accusations
that the group was involved in subversion abroad.
"We do not act
outside the law in any country. We guard the preservation of the law,"
Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref said. "He (Khalfan) has no evidence of
this, of any conspiracy."
Iran 'hard to please'
ties have been strained since the fall of Mubarak, an ally of Gulf Arab
states and a foe of the Brotherhood, which was founded in Egypt in
Some UAE Islamists, inspired by the rise of religious
groups in Egypt and Tunisia, have stepped up their activities, angering
officials in a state where no political opposition is permitted.
to describe threats to the UAE, Khalfan said at least two Emiratis had
gone to Syria to fight for rebels trying to depose President Bashar
Assad, but suggested al-Qaida-style militants were not widely supported
in the Emirates.
The main Islamist current in the UAE was the Muslim Brotherhood, he said.
about neighboring Qatar's close ties to the Brotherhood, Khalfan said
the UAE respected the Qatari leadership, even if the two countries had
On Iran, Khalfan, head of Dubai's police force
for three decades, criticized what he called Tehran's interference in
the affairs of Gulf Arab states and its threats to close the Straits of
Hormuz in its standoff with the United States.
However, his language on Iran was relatively restrained, describing it as a neighbor "that is very hard to please."