Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How Dubai Undermines US Sanctions Against Iran

This is not an attempt to make the case for easing sanctions against Iran, but it is an attempt to point out why they're ridiculous in the first place. If an idiot blogger like me can figure this stuff out, how come our own government can't figure out that Dubai is helping Iran get around the sanctions we've been using against Iran?

Not a week goes by without an Iranian minister or official visiting Dubai.

The 350,000 Iranians of Dubai compose the third largest community after the Indians and the Pakistanis. The large fortunes belong to families of Iranian origin. There are 8,200 Iranian companies today in Dubai compared to 6,500 in 2005.

Dubai has become Iran's back-up base and Iranian companies that do business abroad prefer to be based in the emirate. More than 200 flights each week link Dubai to the main Iranian cities. The port ships merchandise of all kinds to Iran, from cars to electric machinery and food.

The official trade figure between the two countries is $6 billion annually, but the smuggling amounts to an estimated additional $1.2 billion a year. Out of that $1.2 billion figure about $250 million stems from U.S. goods, supposedly banned from entering Iran.

What are US relations with Dubai like anyway?

The UAE Is A Key Partner In The War On Terror. The UAE provides U.S. and Coalition forces unprecedented access to its ports and territory, overflight clearances, and other critical and important logistical assistance. Today, the UAE is providing assistance to the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, combating terrorists by cutting off their financing, and enhancing America's homeland security by actively participating in initiatives to screen shipments and containers.

*UAE Ports Host More U.S. Navy Ships Than Any Port Outside The United States. The UAE provides outstanding support for the U.S. Navy at the ports of Jebel Ali - which is managed by DP World - and Fujairah and for the U.S. Air Force at al Dhafra Air Base (tankers and surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft). The UAE also hosts the UAE Air Warfare Center, the leading fighter training center in the Middle East.

*The UAE Is A Partner In Shutting Down Terror Finance Networks. The UAE has worked with us to stop terrorist financing and money laundering, including by freezing accounts, enacting aggressive anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws and regulations, and exchanging information on people and entities suspected of being involved in these activities.

*The UAE Is An Established Partner In Protecting America's Ports. Dubai was the first Middle Eastern entity to join the Container Security Initiative (CSI) - a multinational program to protect global trade from terrorism. Under CSI, a team of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers is permanently stationed inside Dubai's ports, where they work closely with Dubai Customs to screen containers destined for the United States. Cooperation with Dubai officials has been outstanding and a model for other operations. Dubai was also the first Middle Eastern entity to join the Department of Energy's Megaports Initiative, a program aimed at stopping illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive material.

*The UAE Is A Critical Partner In Afghanistan. The UAE extends vital military and political support to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and substantial financial and humanitarian support to Afghanistan and its people.

*The UAE Is Supporting The New Iraqi Government.

*The UAE has provided significant monetary and materiel support to the Iraqi government, including a pledge of $215 million in economic and reconstruction assistance.

*The UAE Is Supporting Middle East Peace Efforts. The UAE is a moderate Arab state and a long-time supporter of all aspects of Middle East peace efforts. The U.S. and the UAE are also working together to create a stable economic, political and security environment in the Middle East.

That all sounds well and good, but the reality is, when our friends in Dubai are done doing business with us, they're turning around and doing business with Iran, and the last time I looked it up--wasn't that called appeasement? OMG!

Appeasement looks funny when the Bush Administration tries it on for size:

The Bush administration is considering setting up a diplomatic outpost in Iran in what would mark a dramatic official U.S. return to the country nearly 30 years after the American embassy was overrun and the two nations severed relations.

Even as it threatens the Iranian regime with sanctions and possible military action over its nuclear program, the administration is floating the idea of opening a U.S. interests section in Tehran similar to the one the State Department runs in Havana, diplomatic and political officials told The Associated Press on Monday.

Like the one in communist Cuba, an interest section, or de facto embassy, in the Iranian capital would give the United States a presence on the ground through which it can communicate directly with students, dissidents and others without endorsing the government, one official said.

Is that appeasement? Because I have no idea what appeasement is anymore. I keep hearing that term come out of the mouths of every neocon shill and I think it means that appeasement is when someone we don't like gets something we don't want them to have when we're supposed to be in charge of making sure they don't get what they want. Or does it mean giving someone something to get them to shut up? I know--it means whatever the neocons says it means this week. But next week? That'll probably change. So is Dubai appeasing the Iranians by helping them get around the sanctions? The sanctions we believe will beat the Iranians back and force them to give up?

Everyone knows we beat the Cubans with sanctions! Wait. Check that--everyone knows we accomplished absolutely nothing whatsoever with sanctions against Cuba. And our diplomacy was stellar, wasn't it? Wait--there really wasn't any. And that's why we're no further along than we were fifty years ago. But in ANOTHER fifty years, we'll have those Cubans eating out of our hand, won't we?

How can you expect diplomacy to work when you're the Bush Administration? You don't do diplomacy. You do unprovoked wars of aggression and reckless incompetence. You don't do diplomacy, for crying out loud. You do shock and awe, not chit chat.

When do we attack Dubai? I mean, if we're going to be over there for a hundred years, we need to get cracking.

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