With Secretary Rice pushing to bring Iran before the Security Council, is the United States also willing to impose sanctions on Dubai? The sanctions against South Africa to end apartheid were effective because the financial interests of white South Africa were brought to their knees.
Before the Bush administration hands over key port operations to Dubai Ports World, someone in the White House ought to vet the considerable ties between Dubai and Iran. If we “follow the money” to punish Iran for non-compliance with IAEA requirements, then the money trail is going to lead straight to Dubai.
The Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy reports that “Iran is one of Dubai’s major trading partners, accounting for 20 to 30 percent of Dubai’s business.” The daily newspapers of the United Arab Emirates regularly encourage Iranians to travel and invest in Dubai. The UAE daily Al-Bayan writes:
Iranians can easily travel to Dubai. They can embark on a ship in one of the Iranian port cities and come to Dubai. They will arrive in Dubai within 45 minutes. The Iranian association in Dubai is larger than the associations of other countries. The Iranian association has a football field and traditional restaurants.
There are both public and private Iranian schools in Dubai where Iranian students can continue their studies at different levels. Iranian universities also have branches in Dubai. The Islamic Azad University’s Dubai branch accepts students in various fields of study.
An Iranian Business Directory published in Dubai lists 7,073 Iranian companies operating in Dubai, in 31 different business categories ranging from banking and finance to oil and real estate. There is an Iranian Trade Center in Dubai that regularly holds international business shows and an Iranian Business Council operating in Dubai to promote Iranian investment in Dubai.
By the end of 2006, Dubai calculates that some $300 billion will have been moved from Iran to Dubai by over 400,000 Iranians. Hashami Rafsanjani – the former prime minister of Iran who began his career as a pistachio farmer and itinerant preacher in the rural mosques – is now a billionaire. In addition to stashing millions in bank accounts in Switzerland and Luxembourg, Rafsanjani reportedly owns whole vacation resorts on Dubai’s world-class beaches.
Iran’s ambassador to Dubai and the Sheikh Sultans who rule Dubai hold regular meetings discussing how Iran and Dubai can expand their trade relations, with Dubai holding an open door to the capital flight that has swept Iran since the ultra-conservative administration of President Ahmadinejad has taken over.
If the United States or Israel should get close to a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, we should not be surprised to see the wealthy mullahs and their cronies make their escape to their Dubai vacation homes. How possibly can we invite DPW to learn every intimate detail of U.S. port security when Dubai has such close economic ties to the top hierarchy in Iran?
In “Atomic Iran,” I specifically chose the scenario that terror sleeper cells in America would seek to obtain an improvised nuclear device manufactured in Iran and shipped into the United States in a container delivered to a New York area port. This is a prediction I pray will never happen, but can the Bush administration assure America that terrorists supported by Iran will not penetrate DPW just to educate themselves on how porous our ports yet remain?
Let’s return to the UAE daily Al-Bayan for more documentation of the Iran-Dubai nexus:
Since three years ago, when the purchase of houses was legalized for foreign nationals, Iranian investors have rushed to invest in housing construction. They even rushed to the stock exchange markets and bought major Emirati companies.
According to statistics, some 10 to 30 percent of real estate transactions are conducted by Iranians and even the tallest skyscrapers in the UAE belong to Iranians. Total real estate transactions with Iranians have increased 10 percent in comparison with last year.
So, the question to Secretary Rice is this: Are you going to sanction Iranian investments in Dubai, or not? Iran has nearly $200 million a day in windfall oil profits – a number that will only escalate if the Iranian nuclear crisis causes oil prices to spike even more.
With the average Iranian still living on under $2,000 in annual income, President Ahmadinejad has failed to keep his campaign promise to redistribute Iran’s oil wealth to Iran’s struggling population. No wonder Iran feels no pain at the prospect of Security Council sanctions. Not only is Iran in the final stages of concluding a $100 billion oil deal with China, there is always Dubai, where the investment climate is favorable and the sun always shines.