Bracing for the worst

By Haggai Carmon News
10 December 2009

While the world eyes Dubai’s failing economy with great concern, across the bay, Iran sees opportunity. Dubai is the only oil-free city-state of the United Arab Emirates. Until mid-November, it was best known for its spectacular economy and luxurious high-rises.

Intelligence services the world over, however, have long regarded Dubai as a rat’s nest of money launderers, smugglers and arms dealers, teeming with mobsters – Indian, East Asian and Russian thugs, Arab terrorists and Iranian government agents. Dubai’s underground banking system was used to transfer money to the 9/11 terrorists and Hezbollah. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, used a Dubai shell company to distribute Malaysian-made centrifuge components, used for uranium enrichment.

The emirate turned a blind eye to these activities. With no oil, its economy was dependent on trade – of any color. Under growing U.S. pressure, however, official Dubai had to remove its blinders; it was that or sanctions. Thus in 2007, Emir Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum vowed to honor UN Security Council sanctions against Iran. And at least on the surface, Dubai did initially work to comply. Most of its banks announced they would no longer be dealing with Iranian banks. Even worse for Iran, Dubai started cooperating with the United States to uncover shell corporations used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and other groups to import embargoed goods. It became harder for an Iranian citizen to get a work visa for Dubai. The West’s pressure had good reason: a nuclear one.

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