The UAE Resistance Union Against Normalization appeared in August 2020. The term ‘union’ is somewhat confusing because it is not a structured organization but rather a virtual, net-based initiative. That observation stems from the fact that the union’s website https://uae4palestine.com/ had a very short life-term. The last content on the website is dated towards the end of 2020, shortly after it has appeared.
On the other hand, its Twitter account @uae4palestine2 is active – overwhelmingly in Arabic. It has about 34K followers. The account focuses mainly on the issue of resisting normalization with Israel, protecting the shrines of Islam in Jerusalem and supporting the Palestinians.
There are similar Gulf affiliated net-based initiatives such as Qatar’s Youth Against Normalization (https://qayon.org/ ), Bahrain’s Resistance Association Against Normalization (@ bsaz_bh) or Gulf Coalition Against Normalization (@gulf_can)
Who is beyond The UAE Resistance Union Against Normalization?
Its founders are:
Ahmed Mohamed Abdullah Mohmed al-Shaiba al-Nuaimi, President of the union (Emirate of ‘Ajman)
Hamad Mohammed Rahman Humaid al-Shamsi
(Emirate of ‘Ajman) Deputy Chairman of the UAE Resistance Union Against Normalization and the Executive Director of the Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center (EDAC – https://en.edacrights.com/ )
Hamid Abdullah al-Nuaimi (Emirate of ‘Ajman)
Saeed Naser al-Teneiji, Former President of the association (Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah)
Ibrahim Mahmoud Ahmed Mohammed (Emirate of ‘Ajman)
Tarek al-Shaya (Kuwait) President of the International Youth League for al-Quds http://www.s4quds.com/site/index.php
Exploring the history of its founders reveals an interesting background.
In September 2021 a UAE state law decree labeled Ahmed al-Nuaimi, Hamad al-Shamsi, Saeed al-Teneiji, and Ibrahim Mahmoud Ahmed Mohammed as terrorists.
The background for that story is the ‘Emirate 94’ case. In March 2011, inspired by the outbreak of the Arab Spring, couple of hundreds of Emiratis signed a petition demanding the UAE rulers to conduct free and transparent elections, to conduct reform and enhance human rights and civil rights. In response, the UAE government brought to court 94 of the people who signed the petition. Some were imprisoned, in addition, the UAE government abolished the citizenship status of seven people.
Another entity that has been associated with the ‘Emirate 94’ case is ‘The Reform Association’, an Emirate-based NGO established in 1974. In 2013, the authorities sentenced in absentia members of ‘The Reform Association’for a long imprisonment accusing them in sabotage and destabilizing activities. Among those people were the future-founders of the ‘UAE Resistance Union Against Normalization’ Ahmed al-Nuaimi and Saeed Naser al-Teneiji. In 2014 the UAE authorities abolished the legal status of the Reform Association’ and out-law it, arguing it is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Founders’ current whereabouts:
Ahmad Al-Nuaimi lives in London. He has established there in March 2014 a private-owned company called The Cambridge Education and Training Center, https://www.educambridge.co.uk/training-development offering a cultural enrichment and personal empowerment seminars focusing apparently mostly in Muslim immigrants and UK-born Muslims.
Hamad al-Shamsi and Saeed al-Teneiji are based in Istanbul, Turkey. It is possible that Al-Shamsi also has a base in the UK.
Ibrahim Mahmoud Ahmed Mohamed is in Iran (?)
In September 2021 the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/ addressed the UAE authorities demanding to remove Al-Nuaimi, Al-Shamsi, Al-Teneiji and another person named Mohammed Saqer Yousif al-Zaabi from the list of terrorists.
A Turkish Connection?
It is possible that for a while there has been a Turkish connection to the UAE Resistance Union Against Normalization. Clues to this can be found in three facts. One fact is that founders of the union had official position with ‘The Reform Association’affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood who are supported by Turkey. Other fact is that Turkey is a base of action for some of the founders. A third fact is that during the violent incidents between Palestinians and the Israeli police forces in the Temple Mount compound during the month of Ramadan 2022, the union’s official site remained completely silent. Why can that fact indicate Turkey’s involvement? Because in recent months Turkey has been seeking to rebuild its relations with Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia hoping that they will help Turkey to emerge from the deep economic crisis it has encountered. As part of its new approach, and to express its good will, Turkey has shut down Muslim Brotherhoods broadcast channel that has been operating in Turkey for eight years. It is possible that Turkey ordered the ‘union’ to stay law and perhaps even completely withdrew its support for it (assuming there was such support)
About the term ‘Normalization’—Tatbi’e in Arabic
One translation of the term tatbi’e is “making things natural”—or in short, “normalization.” One might then think that the fact that Arabs use this term to describe Israel’s recognition and acceptance means that the word “normalization” has a positive connotation. But Arabic is a complex, rich, and nuanced language. Tatbi’e can also be translated as “to create something artificial.” Another translation of the word is “to stain.” You probably can see that these translations have a negative connotation. The use of the term tatbi’e in the Arab public discourse is primarily negative. Having a relationship with Israel was, and is, frowned upon within wide circles of large parts of the Arab world. Tatbi’e implies that many in the Arab world actually reject the idea of recognizing and accepting Israel. When it comes to the issue of tatbi’e—normalization—there are roughly three camps in the Arab world.
Unequivocally Reject Normalization
Political Islam and militant Islam categorically and unwaveringly reject any and all normalization with Israel. Their position is rooted in the Muslim-Sunni and Muslim-Shi’ite theology. Most Sunni and Shi’ite Muslim theologians refuse to recognize Jews as a “nation.” Islam recognizes both Judaism and Christianity as monotheistic religions. However, in the eyes of Muslim scholars, Islam existed in heaven prior to Judaism and Christianity, and is the final and flawless monotheistic religion sent to humanity by Allah. Islam argues that the Jews betrayed the mission appointed to them to spread Allah’s word. Therefore, Allah punished the Jews and scattered them throughout the world, forever to be cursed. In addition, Shi’ites view Jews as “impure.” Given this, the establishment of a state for the Jews (Israel) is defying Allah and should not be accepted. Islamists view the State of Israel as an artificial entity that the Christian West established on Islamic land (Palestine), which is Allah’s property. Thus, according to the Islamist outlook, Israel is occupying Islamic land, and the land must be liberated by eliminating Israel. In the Islamist eyes, Israel has no right to exist. This outlook is clearly and directly expressed by various Islamic factors—Sunnis and Shi’ites, political Islamists and militant Islamists, al-Qaeda, Hamas, ISIS, Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood (all Sunni), and Hezbollah (Shi’ite). With this first camp, there is, of course, no room to talk about normalization.
Accept Normalization—With Conditions
The second camp is the one that is willing to accept normalization with Israel on the condition that Israel meets all Palestinian demands. This group includes non-Islamist circles in Arab countries (including Jordan and Egypt—two Arab countries that have peace agreements with Israel) that oppose normalization. Organizations against recognition of, and relationships with, Israel include organized bodies of academics, engineers, students, and associations of architects, engineers, farmers, intellectuals, lawyers, trade unions, etc. They repeatedly call for Egypt and Jordan to cancel their peace agreements with Israel and demand to cancel all normalization agreements. The conditions this camp presents makes normalization, practically speaking, unachievable. A primary Palestinian demand is to allow millions of people the Palestinians define as refugees to return to Israel. The vast majority of Israelis reject this demand entirely because it would mean the end of the State of Israel.
The third camp in the Arab world is a camp that claims that normalization with Israel is in the Arabs’ interest. In their view, normalization with Israel should not be predicated on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to this school of thought, it is possible and necessary to pursue both tracks—normalization and conflict resolution simultaneously.
Summary and Observations
The UAE Resistance Union Against Normalization is a virtual, net-based initiative. It is yet another manifestation of the opposition in the Arab world to normalization with Israel.
The relatively mild traffic of followers on its Twitter account probably stems from the fact it is operating in the crowded niche of net-based virtual initiatives in Arabic focusing on the same agenda – opposing normalization with Israel, the protection of the shrines of Islam in Jerusalem and in support of the Palestinians.
Couple of facts suggest a possible Turkish involvement in the activity of The UAE Resistance Union Against Normalization. However, such involvement (if was) apparently ended or at least has been frozen.
Anti-normalization camp argues that the peace between Israel Egypt and Jordan are on a level of governments – not on the level of people-to- people. That observation is quite accurate. However, expressions of people-to-people relations in the case of the Israel – UAE peace are very common. It can be mostly attributed (together with other reasons) to the fact that historically, animosity to Israel has not been injected into the public realm, educational, cultural, and political spheres in the UAE.