UAE Brings in Conscription

Gulf nation worried about 'difficult neighbors'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2014 12:30 AM CDT
UAE pilots greet each other at the steps of a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III.   (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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(Newser) – Does the United Arab Emirates spy trouble ahead? The Gulf nation has introduced a law requiring all males over 18 to serve at least nine months in the military, or two years if they haven't finished high school, Al Jazeera reports. Officials say the conscription law, which follows a similar one introduced in Qatar earlier this year, will "instill values of loyalty and sacrifice in the hearts of the citizens." Citizens only make up around 10% of the country's 8.2 million population, with foreign workers making up most of the rest.

The UAE doesn't face any immediate threats from its neighbors and hasn't experienced militant attacks, but its ruler describes its independence as a "red line that must be protected." With conscription, "I think the country is saying 'We want to continue with the stability and prosperity but we are also well-equipped for any eventuality,'" an Emirati political scientist told Reuters earlier this year. "We are living in a red zone ... it's a very difficult zone with a lot of difficult neighbors. You need to be on guard all the time."

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