The UK Guardian newspaper reported that a bloodless coup to take control of the northern-most emirate in the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is being plotted by ousted former Crown Prince, Sheikh Khalid bin Saqr al-Qasimi.
Documents claimed to be seen by the Guardian show that Sheikh Khalid bin Saqr al-Qasimi is leading a multimillion-pound campaign to "undermine the current regime's standing" and to force the leadership of the UAE in Abu Dhabi, to "make a change".
The campaign alleges the regime presents an international security threat because the country has become "a rogue state and gateway for Iran", allowing the shipment of weapons, including nuclear weapons parts, drugs and blood diamonds as well as military personnel and terrorists from al-Qaida and other networks.
Sheikh Khalid, 66, was ousted by his father and brother as de facto leader in 2003.
The plotters have claimed the RAK regime is implicated in an alleged terror plot to blow up the world's tallest building in Dubai, and a possible Iranian attack on US participants in the America's Cup yachting race, due to take place in the emirate but later cancelled.
Sources close to the plot believe it is now entering its endgame. Sheikh Khalid is understood to have returned to the UAE from exile in London last month and has been in Abu Dhabi meeting officials from the UAE federal government, they said.
June 7, 2010
Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk
The northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah was the last to join the UAE federation in 1972. It has a particularly important geographical location, being about 50 miles from Iran across the Straits of Hormuz. It's port regularly exchanges trade with Iran. RAK has also been the alleged scene of trafficking of humans and drugs.
It's strategically important location and role in trade makes it one of the GCC's most vital areas to watch. Instability there could have repercussions not only on the UAE but the whole region and beyond.
The most likely successful scenario for a regime change is one supported by Abu Dhabi. It appears that Abu Dhabi are moving towards this, probably after the demise of the ageing current ruler of RAK, where Sheikh Khalid would be brought from exile to become ruler. This will almost certainly be resisted by the current Crown Prince. The ruler automatically becomes a member of the Supreme Council of the UAE. If Abu Dhabi supports Sheikh Khalid and the current Crown Prince declares himself Ruler, there are two likely scenarios. The first is that the UAE armed forces would intervene to oust and replace the ruler they would like to change, but failing this it may lead to breaking up of RAK from the federation, making the emirate rely on foreign support, perhaps from Iran.
It is difficult to speculate what internal deals will be taking place between the ruling family of Abu Dhabi and RAK, but it appears that the situation in RAK is heading towards an escalation, with implications for both the UAE and the region.