Who Were the Joint Opposition Front (UAE)?
Evaluating some of the countries in my scope of research is that sometimes it’s challenging to find separatist opposition in places you might expect.
One such place is the United Arab Emirates. The UAE seems ripe for potential political splits, as a federated monarchy composed of seven sheikdoms without a wholly democratically elected parliament and no political parties (Political parties are banned in the UAE). This potential seems particularly more acute given the UAE’s reliance upon a highly exploited migrant workforce.
After looking for over a year, I have not found anything remotely resembling separatist opposition.
But I found something interesting a few weeks ago.
While skimming through Henry W. Degenhardt’s Political Dissent: An International Guide to Dissident, Extra-Parliamentary Guerrilla and Illegal Political Movements (1983), I found a blurb about a militant opposition organization.
The Joint Opposition Front met in London in late 1980 to draft a manifesto. In it, the organization supposedly called for the overthrow of the UAE government, to be replaced by a democratic populist regime seeking to spread the country’s wealth to its citizens. They also sought to reclaim Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tumb islands — seized by Iran in late 1971.
This is all I’ve been able to find about this organization.
Now, I’m just at the beginning of digging into this. I Have Degenhardt’s bibliography for the section of the book this blurb is in — Black September by Christopher Dobson (1975), The Carlos Complex: a Pattern of Violence by Christopher Dobson and Ronald Payne (1977), Guerrillas for Palestine by Riad El-Reyyes and Dunia Nahas (1976), The Gun and the Olive Branch by David Hirst (1977), Arab Guerrilla Power 1967–72 by Edgar O’Ballance (1974), Carlos: Portrait of a Terrorist by Colin Smith (1976) — and will probably dig into some of these at some point. But, clearly, none of these works point to any developments as late as 1980. So, I’m left wondering what the source for this blurb even was.
For now, I’m at a bit of a dead end with the UAE at the moment. I’m still fascinated by the potential for opposition there and will continue to seek out more about this organization.
Originally published at https://davidnwaeze.substack.com on July 5, 2022.