And when they stopped a plane with the defence minister and chief of defence staff from entering their airspace en route to Afghanistan, I would call them up and remind them, once again, where they can stick it. Such linkage is bush league thuggery, not diplomacy, and we’re right not to play ball on this.
I take a different view. It doesn't matter how over the top the UAE's response was with denying airspace to our officials and kicking out our base. Diplomacy and international relations on contentious issues is in large part about weighing the cost and benefits of getting your way. We can stonk and rave about the metrics of air-travel and the merits or motivations of the Emirates' request. Great. But at the end of the day we still had, at the Emirates' privilege, a vital military installation on their soil. And they had no comparable facility on ours. They held a trump card and our government failed to realise they could and would use it.
Their negotiators must have shaken their heads when Harper's minions rucked up to the table.
Moreover, that they used that card also shows that our little war in Afghanistan isn't a particularly critical interest for the UAE. Indeed, having contingents of Western military forces on their soil might even be looked upon as a security problem because their presence winds-up the more excitable members of the local and regional citizenry. For all we know, this little dispute might have been a good enough reason for them to kick us out.
Whatever the case, playing diplomatic hardball with a state holding that much leverage was just plain stupid. Framed another way, the Conservatives essentially gambled the Canadian Forces in a dispute over something as trivial as airline landing privileges and lost. Badly.
Another case of the Conservative magical reality impacting actual reality at velocity...
The UAE official said an agreement granting the Canadian side landing rights had initially expired in June and in the spirit of goodwill it was extended on request from the Canadian government for three more months.
“Out of goodwill, the UAE granted the extension of three months, but the Canadian side did not show any similar act of goodwill towards the UAE,” the official said.
The official added: “But when it comes to free trade and economic liberalisation, Canada today is behaving like the defunct states of the Iron Curtain.”
The official added the Canadian minister’s aircraft was well aware and long in advance that the MOU on landing rights had expired.
“This information was in their possession when the minister’s craft was on the ground in Afghanistan and an alternative landing facility was agreed upon by the Canadian side with another country well before the plane took off,” the official said.
On Sunday, Mohammed Abdullah Al Ghafli, the UAE’s ambassador in Canada, said the failed negotiations concerning commercial landing rights in Canada would “undoubtedly affect” bilateral relations between the two countries.
“It is unfortunate that this process has been so protracted and frustrating,” said Al Ghafli.
Ouch. I think they understand our Harper-kind all too well.