TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Tahnoun bin Zayed, the national security adviser of the United Arab Emirates and the crown prince’s younger brother, has been in Tehran on a secret mission aiming to defuse the Persian Gulf crisis, a senior security source in the UAE told the Middle East Eye (MEE).
Tahnoun’s secret mission is the highest-level meeting between Iran and the UAE since the crisis broke out in the Middle East, according to the report published on Sunday.
The MEE contacted the UAE Embassy media office in London but did not receive a reply by the time their story was published.
It comes amid multiple signs of the UAE following its own, softer line with Tehran, after four tankers were attacked off the Emirati port of Fujairah earlier this year.
Although the chief of US naval operations, Michael Gilday, said American intelligence had concluded that Iran’s IRGC was “directly responsible” for the attacks, the UAE itself has never pointed the finger of blame at Iran.
Instead, it sent navy officers to meet their counterparts in Iran, a visit that was announced. This weekend’s mission has been kept secret.
When the UK, Germany and France attempted to counter US efforts to step up the military confrontation in the Persian Gulf, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash praised their diplomatic efforts.
Gargash said, “At every turn, the UAE has avoided conflict with Iran. We will continue to take all measures to de-escalate tensions and reduce the potential for hostilities. When necessary, we are prepared to act in self-defense, but always proportionately, judiciously and with restraint. We seek a pragmatic, diplomatic path to lowering tensions and creating an opening for meaningful talks.”
The secret mission comes amid a flurry of backchannel attempts to get talks going between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Saudis have called on Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to pass messages to Tehran.
As MEE revealed on October 1, Abbas al-Hasnawi, an official in the Iraqi prime minister’s office, confirmed that Abdul Mahdi was mediating between the leaderships in Riyadh and Tehran and had communicated each side’s conditions for talks to the other.
The UAE has recently shown more than one sign of pursuing its own path with Iran. It recently announced it was pulling its troops out of Yemen, and has publicly backed southern separatists in the port city of Aden splitting the country in two.