A prominent figure in the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) security apparatus is endorsing President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning citizens of seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the U.S., the Jordanian news service Al Bawaba reports.
“We completely support Trump in his ban on entry to those who may cause a breach in America’s security,” Dubai security chief Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim tweeted.
His country is not among the seven – Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen – covered by the executive order.
“Previous US administrations have embraced all the wanted men of the Arab world and those classified as terrorists. Trump, what you’re doing is right,” Khalfan wrote.
The UAE has cited security concerns for its own reluctance to admit Syrian refugees since the start of the civil war in 2011. After drawing criticism from human rights groups, UAE officials agreed in September to accept 15,000 Syrian refugees over a five-year period.
His support for Trump’s temporary ban generated criticism from Arab journalists such as Iraqi-American Steven Nabil.
“Marwan al-Shehhi and Fayez Banihammad were among the 19 terrorists of al-Qaeda who attacked the World Trade Center and other targets on 9-11, which led to the deaths of thousands of American civilians. They both had Emirati citizenship like Dhahi Khalfan,” Nabil wrote.
Khalfan is known for making irreverent comments.
He bucked the regional consensus last March when he expressed opposition to a Palestinian state, warning it would become another failed state. He also urged his Twitter followers not to treat Jews as their enemies.
In 2012, Khalfan launched a war of words with radical Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi. Khalfan threatened Qaradawi, who lives in Qatar, with an international arrest warrant after the cleric criticized the UAE for revoking the visas of Syrian residents who allegedly demonstrated against the Assad regime.
This spat with Qaradawi should be understood in the context of Khalfan’s criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood, which he has accused to plotting to topple the UAE government and wanting to impose Islamist rule in all Gulf states.
Khalfan’s anti-Muslim Brotherhood stance aligns well with that of his government, which pressured former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s government to investigate the Brotherhood. UAE officials also classified the Muslim Brotherhood and offshoots, such as the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) as terrorist groups in 2014.