Sharifah Munirah Alatas, New Age Islam
is conditioned by relations between countries. The breakdown in bilateral
relations often determines how world events either progress, or regress.
important component of why two countries are willing to maintain or end their
relations is sometimes governed by their commitment to bigger, more influential
powers. World peace or crisis is conditioned by geopolitical interests of
that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) revelation of a phone
conversation between Najib Razak and a United Arab Emirates crown prince could
strain Malaysia’s ties with UAE is based on geopolitical ignorance.
chief Noraini Ahmad stated that the release of the audio clips by MACC chief
Latheefa Koya was “driven by politics”.
declared that MACC is a “neutral body” and “should not meddle in politics as it
will create distrust among the people towards the agency”.
clearly confused about foreign policy, bilateral relations and geopolitics. She
is also unaware that Latheefa’s disclosure has won the support of ordinary
disclosure has brought our country closer to solving a catastrophic humiliation
of global proportions.
previous administration embarrassed Malaysians. The 1MDB and SRC crimes caused
enormous credibility issues that will have lasting repercussions on our current
leadership. These repercussions are the planted seeds of fear and doubt in
every Malaysian mind today.
have cautioned us against blind trust for leaders. The public is convinced that
evil and selfishness are possible in politics, and that leaders are capable of
“selling their own country” for personal gain.
“meddle in politics” comment should apply to her, not Latheefa. She has a
muddled understanding of domestic politics and foreign policy.
Noraini’s comments were deliberately made for political mileage. Instead of
asking the MACC chief to “carefully study and fully understand” something, it
is time our political leaders seriously school themselves.
Noraini’s case, she is obligated, as a key leader of the opposition.
must be knowledgeable in the fundamentals of bilateral relations. They are part
of a country’s foreign policy.
bilateral choices are conditioned, in part, by how domestic politics affect
systemic conditions. Before Noraini resorts to educating Malaysians on
UAE-Malaysia relations, she should first understand the fundamental concepts of
systemic and structural conditions.
should understand geopolitical dynamics. These are conditioned by trade, access
to natural resources and the transportation of these resources over vast
barriers of inhospitable land and ocean expanse. Seems so basic, yet few of our
politicians are able to grasp such fundamentals.
reasoning is that Latheefa’s expose of the audio clips will damage Malaysia-UAE
bilateral relations. Here is a lesson for Noraini, on global systemic and
wave of geopolitics has been making its way into the Middle East since the end
of the Cold War.
wave began with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, after World War I. The
second wave followed World War II, when the European colonial order
third wave will reach its apex, should the American order collapse. Therefore,
the US leadership under Donald Trump will do anything to prevent an uncertain
conversations in the audio clips mentioned UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin
Zayed Al Nahyan. Many Malaysian opposition leaders and armchair political
strategists claim that conversations between two heads of government are a
it is not a secret matter since one ex-leader is domestically charged with
corruption and abuse of power.
it ceases to be a confidential matter when a foreign country is a participant
in what has already been decided as a global crime.
part of the audio clips disclosed the personal nature of Najib Razak’s request,
which is not part of official Malaysian foreign policy.
In the 1MDB
and SRC scandals (of which Najib has openly been charged), UAE’s involvement
broke Malaysian law. It also contributed to political turmoil, financial duress
and public outrage.
We are not
concerned with whether the crown prince broke his own country’s law, or whether
UAE citizens are outraged.
this has proven that Malaysia (and MACC) are transparent, which lessens the
possibility of a national security threat.
not transparent was UAE’s partnership in the crime. Is Noraini implying that
the crime involving these two heads of state can impact the systemic and
think that Sheikh Khalifa will consider breaking off bilateral ties with
Malaysia because of his dealings with a former head of state?
already public knowledge that UAE and Malaysia do not see eye to eye on several
issues of politics in West Asia. But they have continued to maintain diplomatic
KL Summit is a clear example. Both Saudi Arabia and UAE snubbed Prime Minister
Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s invitation. Pakistan was also absent. Yet, Pakistan,
Saudi Arabia and UAE still maintain diplomatic ties with Malaysia.
systemic argument for these events revolves around the global race for power
and influence in West Asia. It involves the Americans as ring leader and not
whether Latheefa upset Sheikh Khalifa or not.
Arabia sits on enormous oil wealth. It is also riding on the psychological hold
it has over millions of Muslims around the world.
Medina are on Saudi soil, and they control haj quotas as a result. The 1979
Islamic Revolution in Iran challenged a system of leadership in West Asia,
which was based on hereditary monarchy. The 1979 Revolution overthrew the last
monarch of Iran, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi.
for pre-1979 anti-Shah sentiments among Iranians was their rejection of Western
imperialism. It was also a reaction to the Shah’s oppressive, corrupt and
extravagant regime. Coupled with extreme economic inequities, commodity
shortages and inflation in Iranian society, the public saw their Shah as a
puppet of a “non-Muslim Western manipulative power”, ie., the US.
revolution therefore challenged a system of monarchy which exists throughout
the Gulf States, including in Saudi Arabia and UAE. They perceived the Iranian
revolution as a challenge to their positions as monarchs.
and anti-Iranian sentiments in Israel and the West were exacerbated only after
the US invaded Iraq, in 2003.
It is clear
that current US hegemony, and a desire to control crude oil shipments and its
dollar value have set up a global system of inter-state relations in West Asia.
It is unlikely that Malaysia has a direct involvement in this systemic
geopolitics of oil and petrodollars. However, Noraini’s comments implied this.
inaccurate to accuse Latheefa of bringing a possible rift in relations between
UAE and Malaysia. Given the systemic and geopolitical groundwork already in
place, it is more likely that any rift in bilateral relations would be
instigated by Trump and King Salman of Saudi Arabia.
role in the geopolitics of West Asia is miniscule in terms of the likelihood of
her proxy role big power geopolitics.
different levels of foul-ups that could lead to a breakdown in bilateral
relations between two sovereign nations.
Najib is a
fallen leader who faces criminal charges. His collusion with the UAE leadership
in the past, was clandestine and not part of official Malaysian foreign policy.
There is no
threat to Malaysia’s current foreign policy with UAE. We have a new government
and a new leader. Should the UAE leadership react irrationally and cease all
relations, it is not the doing of Latheefa.
The two are
Sharifah Munirah Alatas is an academic specialising in geopolitics with a
special interest in socio-political issues of developing nations.
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