Security threats to states can be traditional transnational or non-traditional transnational by nature. The former ones refer to challenges to the country’s welfare that are caused by military differences. The most common feature of non-traditional security threats is that they are non-military and that they have a transnational scope. Globalization is the primary force behind non-traditional security concerns. Energy can lead to a non-traditional security threat because of its capacity to threaten the country’s economy if someone decides to manipulate the supply and prices or cuts off energy (Krane, 2015). It is essential to note that the decision does not involve the use of the military force, thus allowing to qualify this kind of threat as non-traditional. The decision of the OPEC to increase the prices of oil in the 1970s and 80s and use it as a political weapon is a good example of how energy can be a security concern to states that do not have a sufficient internal solution to their energy needs. Energy is a non-traditional security threat that should worry the United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to its reliance on the external supply of gas.
Energy is a non-traditional security threat due to the transnational nature of the problem. Most countries, including the UAE, largely depend on imports of gas, electricity, or oil (Krane, 2015). When the supply is interrupted, it becomes a security challenge although it is not fully within the control of the affected state because of the trans-border nature of the problem. The problem cannot be fixed by military action, but through cooperation between the players involved (Sakmar, 2013). In this respect, threats to the energy supply pose a non-traditional security threat.
Moreover, production and prices of energy are controlled by factors that are beyond the control of states that import it for domestic use. In essence, external factors determine if the country gets the supply and at what price. The importer only gets what is availed by the exporter. The interdependence between the two explains the international nature of the energy security threat with respect to the recipient, thus making it a non-traditional security concern.
Thomas and Ramberg (2015) assert that tensions in energy-producing countries, which was the case during the first and second Gulf Wars and the OPEC crisis, ensure security of countries that rely on oil and gas imports from these countries. An abrupt manipulation of oil price and production by the OPEC nations has a significant negative impact on the welfare of states that rely on imported oil. Drastic shifts in the supply can collapse or considerably weaken it, creating more social-economic challenges that can trigger internal security problems (Thomas & Ramberg, 2015). Consequently, energy remains a non-traditional threat to the security of nations that depend on the external supply of energy.
The issue of energy security has become a security threat in Asia and the rest of the world, which should worry the UAE. The country relies on its power stations for the electricity supply (Kumetat, 2014). However, they are entirely powered by gas, a quarter of which is sourced externally from Qatar or Dubai. Overreliance on exported gas can be dangerous to the UAE’s security, especially, when the supplier decides to cancel the contract. The tension between the Gulf countries has exposed dangers of a nation relying on external players for its energy generation. The decline in power production can pose serious economic and later political challenges to the UAE’s government, hence evoking the need to address the threat posed by energy (Dirioz & Reimold, 2014). Therefore, the UAE should pay more attention to the threat posed by overreliance on foreign supply of energy sources.
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The destruction of the Dolphin pipeline used for transportation of natural gas from Qatar to the UAE, in particular, Dubai would have a direct impact on the UAE’s economy. Political instability in the country or region that supplies energy or materials used to generate it can result in serious economic and security challenges for the receiving state (Sakmar, 2013). The on-going political impasse between Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation member has led to the rise in tensions and the imposition of blockades that have far-reaching economic implications. The escalation of the crisis can lead to the severing of links between the countries, which are in this case Qatar and the UEA unless they come to an agreement. In this respect, energy security is a threat to the UAE.
The UEA must look for ways to guarantee its security from the imposition of possible economic sanctions by neighbors that supply it with gas. The safety of the country consists not only in the presence of the military, but envisions implementation of necessary measures to cushion the economy from external sabotage (Thomas & Ramberg, 2015). Overreliance on imports for any given critical sector can be a security threat if the supply is subject to instability. For instance, Qatar may use the gas export to the UAE to push forward its own agenda, especially, if it is proved that the country does not have an alternative supply or energy source (Young, 2014). A 40% cut in energy would impede development and have a negative impact on the economy of the UAE. The government does not have immediate remedy plans in case of such an eventuality.
Manipulation of the energy supply to the disadvantage of the recipient can trigger insecurity. The UAE’s import of gas from Qatar cannot be ensured during an extreme political crisis between the two nations (Askari, 2013). Economic embargoes that concern the energy sector would significantly affect the UAE’s economy. The country relies on gas-powered energy plants to generate electricity, which underscores its vulnerability to Qatar’s economic sabotage when the two nations severe their links.
Additionally, the conflict between Qatar and any other country that may result in a serious political instability would have trickling-down effects on the UAE’s energy sector. Turmoil in a state hinders a smooth running of the economy, which immobilizes or slows down the export and import business. Destruction of the pipeline for the gas supply from Qatar to the UAE can cause the energy crisis in the country. The sustainability of the UAE’s energy demands elimination of dependence on the import of gas from Abu Dhabi and Qatar (IBP, 2015). Insecurity of supply lines leaves the country in a precarious condition as far as its energy security is concerned. Therefore, the supply of gas to the UAE would be affected by political instability in Qatar.
The UAE does not have reliable alternative sources of energy, which leaves the country excessively reliant on gas-run power plants. The country ought to diversify its energy sector to improve its energy security (Dobransky, 2013; Amineh, & Guang, 2012). Innovations have to be introduced to reduce reliance on external supplies of energy. Therefore, the UAE should reduce its vulnerability to political instability in states from which it imports gas as a way of neutralizing insecurity that is posed by this kind of dependency.
In conclusion, energy security is a non-traditional threat due to its non-military and transnational nature. It is a problem that is caused by factors that are not within the control of the state, hence requiring a cross-border solution. Instability in a country that supplies energy is a threat to the importer’s welfare. The UAE has to be worried because of this due to its dependence on the supply of gas from outside used to power its energy plants. The country is not energy self-sufficient; thus, it has to opt for energy import from Qatar and Abu Dhabi. The frosty relations between Qatar and the Gulf nations should be a wake call for the UAE and prompt it to consider looking for alternative means with a view to developing a local solution in the energy sector rather than relying solely on imports.