This past week we saw 29 people killed and roughly 70 people injured by an attack by four gunmen on a military parade in Ahvaz, capital of Khuzestan province bordering Iraq.
Following the attack, I read a tweet from Dr. Abdul Khaleq Abdulla’s, justifying the attacking on Iran and arguing that it was part of a plan to fight Iran on its own territory. “An attack on a military target is not a terrorist act. Moving the battle to deep inside Iran is an option that has been publicly declared and will increase in the coming phase,” Abdulla said. Abdulla is a professor of Political Science in the UAE, and now also an adviser now to the Abu Dhabi government. He seemed to be echoing statements made by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, warning that Riyadh will take the fight to “inside Iran”. This sort of promotion of violence and conflict is completely unjustifiable. People in glass houses should not throw stones. And by the way, the majority of those killed and injured were civilians and veterans – not active duty military. It was a ceremonial parade, not a military one! To put it in an American context – it would be like shooting at a Macy’s parade on July 4th!
In the past decade or so, the UAE has been towed away by Saudi Arabia to adopt very stringent anti-Iran policies. Earlier this year, the head of Iran’s Central Bank pointed out several obstacles created by UAE banks for Iranian merchants, placing pressure on Iranian traders, mostly over value-added tax, visa issuance and banking restrictions. Opening letters of credit for imports from UAE is now prohibited in Iran.
Iran’s non-oil trade with the UAE hit $16.83 billion in the last fiscal year (Iranian Fiscal year ending March 20, 2018). This was a 21.18% rise compared to the prior year. This represents roughly 10% of UAE’s GDP. In addition, there is a sizable Iranian expat population (as much as 800,000) in UAE, approximating 8% of UAE’s population. In comparison to other groups in the UAE, Iranians are not low-income migrants (like from Bangladesh or Philippines) but provide key services – engineers, doctors, professionals. There are over 5000 Iranian owned businesses in the UAE. There is an Iranian Club, and Iranian Hospital.
Naturally, Iran’s government has been working to curb its trade ties with the UAE. And the government of Iran has now decided to shift its exports hub from the UAE to Oman and Qatar. If this is so, why is trade growing, while Iran has apparently been shifting export hubs?
This is NOT enough. Given UAE’s role in the Ahvaz attacks, Iran must cut off all trade ties with UAE and actively promote activities that forever shut off Iran’s support for UAE’s economy. It is very clear to me, as an Iranian-American, that UAE’s prosperity has been directly linked to Iran’s demise over the past 40 years. UAE was a dessert migrated by Bedouins before the Islamic Republic came to power. They have no mineral wealth to speak of. Their claim to fame if you will, is solely based on 40 years of sanction busting with Iran. While Western countries imposed tight sanctions on trade with Iran over its disputed nuclear program, the UAE served as a convenient conduit for other countries to do business with Iran. UAE became the ‘trans-shipment’ point for all goods to Iran; and they placed hefty mark-ups and fees in the process. All those shopping centers and buildings are a direct result of ‘wealth’ sucked out of Iran. They owe their very existence to Iran and Iranians. Its all built on the back of Iranians. UAE would be nothing without Iran. This must stop.
I remember when France refused to support President Bush’s war with Iraq, Americans decided to boycott all French goods in the U.S. Sales of French wine dropped dramatically in the U.S. And they started calling “French Fries” – Freedom Fries (these are potato ‘chips’ eaten with Hamburgers in U.S restaurants). Why can’t we Iranians inside Iran but also Iranians abroad do the same? Iranians everywhere HAVE the power to fight back!
Why should the UAE become a vestige of Trump pressure on Iran, and Iran continue to support UAE’s economy? It doesn’t make sense? Here are specific actions that must be taken by ALL IRANIANS to completely boycott the UAE.
- Stop travel to Dubai completely, Pull ALL Iranians out. Yes, Iranians must stop traveling to the UAE completely. But more importantly, Iran’s government should as ALL Iranians living and working in UAE to leave and refuse to renew their passports. Let’s see what an 8% drop in population means to Dubai’s real estate prices? (Shall we?) Let’s see how fast they can bring in and train replacements for the very educated and experienced Iranians in UAE?
- Move all Freight services to Qatar or Oman – and even establish a Major Iranian port to rival Dubai. Why are Iranian goods being transshipped through Dubai? Are there NO other options? This must stop completely. A 10 percent drop in Shipments through Dubai would have catastrophic impact on their economy. It’s not just the freight, but all the support services – warehousing, banking, ship repairs etc. ALL that must shift away from Dubai. The knock on effects of a shipping boycott would be a massive blow to UAE.
- Stop riding on UAE flagship Airlines (Emirates, Etihad etc.) and Cut off Air access Across Iranian Skies. Yes, Iranians must stop ALL travel on these airlines, but more importantly Iran’s government should actively impede their operations. Iran should refuse all flyovers over Iranian air space and use its influence in Iraq and Syria to eliminate routes over those countries too (UAE after all is a significant backer of Syrian opposition.) The increase in fuel costs and travel times would be devastating for these airlines. Also, readers should note that these airlines depend on Iranians IN DUBAI for ground services. Without Iranian technicians and engineers, they would be completely shut down. And by the way, Air Travel and Tourism are now almost 20% of UAE’s economy. Iranians could unilaterally put these airlines out of business. The sales drop for these Airlines would be huge and literally put them out of business; but also put ‘UAE’ out of business. They are already struggling. This would also reduce their purchase of airplanes and this in turn would put pressure on major vendors like Boeing and affect ‘their’ political sponsors like the “Trump” administration who want Iranians to suffer. Also, MORE importantly, Iran should actively set up an Iranian HUB to compete with Dubai for air travel. I have done the calculations, an air hub in Mashhad would be 1000 Km closer for European or North American travel to Asia and the Far East. Iran could undercut Dubai in an instant, by setting up a major travel hub there. There would be considerable cost advantages.
UAE is a Trump Puppet State: Yes, UAE is nothing but a US/Israeli puppet state now. And ALL Iranians everywhere know that the Trump administration is NOT interested in helping or supporting Iranian aspirations to Democracy and Freedom. All these sanctions and rhetoric are merely designed to suspend Iranian oil exports and reinforce Oil and Gas pricing for the Saudi’s, Russians and now the U.S. (that has become the world’s largest oil exporter). Its designed to cut off global supply. Not help Iranians prosper and be free.
If Trump was a “democrat” – with a small “d”, he would support democracy in his own country – and not undermine U.S. elections by colluding with Russia (and Saudi Arabia). He doesn’t care about Democracy and Freedom in Iran. Why would his cohorts support the MEK – that is the complete anti-thesis of democracy in Iran (with the same leadership for 40 years, and who have partnered with Iran’s enemies to Attack not just Iranians but also Americans … gassing the Kurds, Killing Iranian Scientists [just a few years ago] …).
If Trump cared about Iranians, he would NOT have espoused Anti-Muslim rhetoric to rile up American anti-Islamic fervor; and by the way, shut off Iranian travel to the U.S.
No, Trump’s administration has no credibility with the people of Iran. And the UAE are merely his puppets. And now we know that it was Saudi Arabia and the UAE behind the attackers.
Trump wants Iranians to suffer like Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis — homeless refugees with devastated homes and cities. A cut-up, splintered Iran for Oil companies to exploit.
A Final Analysis: A deep analysis of the attack in Ahvaz says it all. These were Iranian-Arab Separatists, fighting to splinter Iran, backed by dictatorial regimes … like the UAE. Of all the countries that backed these attackers, the UAE is the softest, and easiest target for Iranians to address. I am talking ordinary Iranians – not the government (although, I suppose this could be done in tandem). Iranians – ordinary Iranians – can fight back. And the knock-on effects of bankrupting the UAE would be huge – not only for the massive amounts of Foreign investment there that would be undermined, but it would also further isolate Saudi Arabia. The Saudi campaign massacre of civilians in Yemen, for example, would also be impeded (don’t forget UAE is a significant partner in that Saudi campaign too).
Abdulla’s tweet echoed the Saudi’s and Trump. The UAE can not be seen to get away with it. We Iranians have the power to stop an attack on Iran! This is the way to do it.