Alwaght- According to a report by Aljazeera news network published on Thursday, Malaysia's Anti-Corruption Commission released on Wednesday a series of audio recordings in which former Prime Minister Najib Razak is heard seeking help from Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and colluding with a former prosecutor to conceal wrongdoings linked to a massive corruption scandal. The recordings appeared to show Razak asking the Emirati prince to arrange a fake deal to prevent the PM from being accused of money laundering, a call given a green light by the Emirati official to save common interests. This is not the first time the links between the Emirati officials and Malaysian corruption cases are disclosed.
The UAE role in Malaysia corruption
Over the past 10 years, The UAE had a big role in corruption cases related to the former Malaysian PM Razak. The very latest details are now exposed by an audio recording the authorities say is dating back to 2016.
The recording reveals a conversation in which Razak asks Prince Mohammed to transfer money to Reza Aziz, Razak’s stepson who is based in New York. According to some reports, the money was paid as a gift to fund a multi-million dollar film project launched by the Aziz in Hollywood. The conversation also exposes a promise by the Emirati prince to help settle a money laundering case involving Razak’s stepson. The case was opened in an American court with a request from Malaysia's civil organizations.
Rosma Mansour, the ex-wife of Razak, is known for lavish life and heavy family costs and she allegedly was the drive behind Razak receiving bribery from the UAE. Last year she was detained in relation to a corruption case known nationally as “1MDB.” In the recent corruption case, Mansour asks Razak to call Abu Dhabi’s crown prince to get her son out of the court trouble. The evidence was too clear to allow Razak a chance to deny its veracity but at the same time he tried to frighten the Malaysian officials of possible damage the revelation of the audio recording could bring to the Malaysian interests and relationship with the UAE.
What are the UAE goals?
The UAE splurge in Malaysia is not exclusively limited to personal relations with the former PM Razak. With regard to Malaysia’s position in the Muslim world and its growing significance for Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the UAE, Abu Dhabi found the easiest way to influence Kuala Lumpur’s policy in personal pays to Razak.
One of Malaysia’s biggest corruption cases took place under Razak. He was accused of $700 million embezzlement in 2013 in Malaysia Development Berhad (MDB). The funds of the MDB, which works like a national development reserve, were deposed in PetroSaudi International Ltd’s bank account via the influential Saudi Prince Turki bin Abdullah. Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the US and the UAE’s economic mastermind, played a major role in transfer of money to the Saudi account. He remained in his position after the scandal.
The Saudis and Emiratis managed to get the Malaysian diplomatic support in their 2014 war against Yemen using these pays. Still, they had worries about Malaysia and it was the possible foothold of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement across the Arab world opposing the despotic rulers and calling for reform of policy. Abdul Hadi Awang, the leader of the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), had friendly relations with some of Syrian Muslim Brotherhood leaders like Said Hawwa. As the Muslim Brotherhood leaders came under pressure in 2015 in some Arab countries like Egypt, some of them chose to live in Malaysia. Their migration to Malaysia stirred new worries among the Saudi and Emirati rulers who were frightened to see the Muslim Brotherhood building a position in East Asia.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE, fearing the victory of PAS— which could be a station to the Muslim Brotherhood— in the 2013 general elections, started to pour money into the Razak’s accounts. The aids infuriated the Malaysian officials. Anwar Ibrahim, the former PM of Malaysia in February 2019 called on the UAE to clarify about its relations to the MDB.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE seek to promote the extremist Wahhabi and Salafi ideology in Malaysia to create an allied front against the Muslim Brotherhood in the East Asian nation. Farid al-Atas, the professor at the National University of Singapore’s department of sociology, commented on the issue saying that now some of the Arab cultural symbols and behaviors like wearing dishdasha are advertised as Muslim traditions. They pose trouble to the Malaysian culture as the Arabs under the cover of Islam promote their culture in foreign countries. “Many religious leaders have embraced the Saudi-supported Salafism and transfer it to their believers,” he added.
The Saudi and Emirati policies in Malaysia caused massive corruption in that country. The former leaders of the country saw the solution in removal of Razak. Mahathir Mohamad with Alliance of Hope managed to secure 122 seats of the parliament defeating Razak-led party. Razak’s failure represented the defeat of Saudi Arabian and Emirati strategic policies in Malaysia. The defeat was so painful that they did not attend a December 2019 Muslim summit hosted by Kuala Lumpur and pressed others like Pakistan not to attend.