Dubai [Image Source]
We offer a little more commentary here about the almost-entirely-unreported Kafkaesque nightmare that overtook the life of a distinguished South African doctor in the United Arab Emirates in August and has continued on a daily basis since then.
First a note about where it’s happening. There’s nothing especially new about the tyranny of the numerous family-owned businesses that constitute the UAE. Democracy is of course unknown in their region. In its place, what they have – and this is fundamental to understanding how the things that happen keep happening there – is oil. Oil, and oceans of money. For those individuals and corporations ready to sell whatever has to be sold in order to feed at the trough of the UAE’s riches, the deal is a clear and simple one: live by the rules, keep your mouth closed and brain in neutral, and you too can cash in.
This brings us to Qantas. We’re big fans of the Australian airline. And we don’t mean to suggest that its management has sold out in the same way that a long, long line of other businesses have. But it’s a fact that Qantas recently announced a 10-year alliance with the Dubai-owned airline, Emirates, under which Qantas will treat Dubai as its hub for all its Australia-Europe routes, and in other ways blend its operations into a harmonious Qantas/Emirates tie-up that they’re calling “the world’s leading airline partnership”.
Perhaps it will become that. But overall it’s not a universally felt sentiment. There has been significant controversy in the Australian media and among Australia’s worried Jews, as well as very public opposition to the deal from a group of Qantas investors that includes the company’s former CEO and CFO. The Australian government’s competition regulator is reported to be issuing a ruling on the deal in the next week.
Now to the vexing case of Prof. Cyril Karabus that we have been following for some months. See 26-Sep-12: Dubai, Dubai, Dubai; 15-Oct-12: Back to Dubai: Australian travelers might want to factor this report into their plans; 21-Oct-12: Update on Prof. Cyril Karabus and his ongoing nightmare in United Arab Emirates; 5-Nov-12: Travel update: Additional things you might want to know about transiting through Dubai; 13-Dec-12: Report from Dubai: making Kafka proud; 13-Dec-12: Kafka would certainly be proud: Update on the doctor arrested at Dubai airport].
The not-so-glitzy Abu Dhabi Criminal CourtIn one paragraph: a frail professional man of 78, whose life and distinguished medical career has been dedicated to treating and saving the lives of desperately ill children, was arrested while transiting through the UAE in August 2012 on a private trip. The officials there informed him and his shocked family that he is charged with a number of criminal offences arising from hospital treatment of a Yemeni child more than a decade before. Multiple appearances and some months later, the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court eventually granted bail. However he remains stuck in the Emirates and forbidden from leaving. He and his lawyers make appearance after appearance in court, and the prosecutors repeatedly say they cannot find their evidence file or key parts of it. The last such hearing was five days ago [our report] when the official Abu Dhabi agency that holds the medical files on the deceased child simply refused to hand them over. Evidently, this makes it impossible for Prof. Karabus to prove his innocence and leave that appalling place. It’s truly Kafka-esque. And it can happen to others (and has).We have just sighted a report that throws light on the role of the UAE half of “the world’s leading airline partnership“. In an article entitled “The Abu Dhabi nightmare continues for Dr Karabus“, Daily Maverick journalist Rebecca Davis writes
South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has been particularly vocal in lobbying for Karabus’s release. In a statement released on Monday, it criticised the handling of the case by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation: “We have learned that the South African embassy has done almost nothing to assist Professor Karabus…”
The TAC has also targeted Emirates Airline for criticism, as Karabus was flying Emirates when arrested. “We are astonished that the airline failed to warn Professor Karabus that he was wanted in the UAE,” it said. [Prof. Karabus’ daughter] says that at the beginning of their journey in Toronto, airline staff informed them that there was some form of security alert attached to her father’s name, but would not elaborate, and certainly gave no sense of its severity. Sarah says that her family asked Emirates if it would consider funding tickets for them to visit Karabus in Abu Dhabi as a goodwill gesture, but it declined. When the Daily Maverick approached Emirates Airline for comment, it was told: “This is a legal issue being dealt with by the relevant authorities and does not involve Emirates.” [more]
If we were Qantas shareholders, we would certainly want to take this information on board before locking the national flag-carrier into what is surely the most significant transaction in its history.
Qantas aircraft [Image Source: The news.com.au website]
As Qantas travelers, we’re uncomfortable at the idea that a great company and world-class airline is hooking up with a business that’s wholly owned by the government of Dubai. By no stretch of the imagination a democracy, Dubai is itself wholly owned and operated by the Al Maktoum clan for about 450 years. A clansmen, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is prime minister and vice president of the United Arab Emirates, constitutional monarch of Dubai and the owner of the world’s largest private yacht (cost: $300 million). Also, as Wikipedia notes, the father of 23 “officially acknowledged” children, and a dominant figure whom Forbes magazine called “the founder, part owner and lead visionary of virtually every major local company, including Emirates Airlines“.
The scandalous treatment of the Karabus family includes them having to shoulder serious financial expenses for accommodation, travel, lawyers and the like. The refusal of Emirates to make the goodwill gesture mentioned in the previous para is in striking contrast to the case of several Palestinian Arabs from Gaza who were allegedly “stranded” for political reasons in Dubai airport last year. An Abu Dhabi newspaper report at the time said “Emirates Airline are providing financial support for them“. Plainly, being one of the world’s very wealthiest people means you can make decisions like that without having to justify yourself.
(other) “Sanctions that Benefit” – Iran buys Turkish gold via UAE, economists say.(HD).Turkey’s trade deficit fell 30 percent in August, reportedly on the back of strong gold sales to Iran even though the United Arab Emirates was the leading gold buyer from Turkey in the given period. The trade deficit fell to $5.86 billion, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute, compared with a $7.89 billion deficit in July and a forecast of $8.10 billion in a Reuters poll. “This data is a result of soaring gold exports, which broke a record with $2.3 billion in August,” Oyak Securities economist Mehmet Besimoğlu said on Sept. 28. “Gold exports were generally to Iran, made via the United Arab Emirates.” Turkish gold sales to Iran have soared as Iranians turn to the precious metal to protect savings and, potentially, to trade, as Western sanctions aimed at forcing the Islamic republic to curb its nuclear program tighten. Some trader firms also speculated that gold to the UAE might be for Iran in deed. As a whole, Turkey’s gold exports jumped more than fourfold to $11.2 billion in the first eight months of 2012. Overall exports to the UAE jumped eightfold to $2.23 billion, making it Turkey’s largest export destination in August. “The lower-than-expected August trade deficit was mainly due to the slowdown in domestic economic activity and net gold exports,” researchers from local lender TEB said. Exports rose 14.5 percent to $12.87 billion, as growing trade with markets in Africa and the Middle East eclipsed a slowdown in demand from Europe. Imports fell 4.8 percent to $18.74 billion.Hmmmm……Sanctions that benefit Obama’s BFF Turkey.Read the full story here.
boggles the mind. Iran and Turkey are at each other’s throats… but with a middleman they do business. They say Mohammad was a merchant. I wonder if he had a setup like this with the enemy.
(BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff – image Matt Damon / AP) Matt Damon turned to oil-rich Middle East royalty to finance his film attacking domestically produced natural gas.
The environmentalist screed, Promised Land, received a chunk of its funding from the United Arab Emirates, an oil kingdom known for its lavish spending on man-made islands and the world’s tallest building, according to the Heritage Foundation.
The creators of Promised Land have gone to absurd lengths to vilify oil and gas companies, as Scribe’s Michael Sandoval noted Wednesday. Since recent events have demonstrated the relative environmental soundness of hydraulic fracturing – a technique for extracting oil and gas from shale formations – Promised Land’s script has been altered to make doom-saying environmentalists the tools of oil companies attempting to discredit legitimate “fracking” concerns. …
Promised Land was also produced “in association with” Image Media Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, according to the preview’s list of credits. A spokesperson with DDA Public Relations, which is running PR for the film, confirmed that AD Media is a financier. The company is wholly owned by the government of the UAE.
An ever-growing market for domestic fracking threatens dependence on foreign oil from the likes of UAE and OPEC.
A strong global market presence for American natural gas could also work to the UAE’s disadvantage. The Arab nation ranks seventh worldwide in proven natural gas reserves. For instance, Japan’s energy imports are expected to rise significantly over the next five years. The country is currently a major importer of UAE natural gas. If it decided to import more LNG from the United States to accommodate its increased energy demands, it could deal a blow to the UAE economy. …
All of this suggests a direct financial interest on the UAE’s part in slowing the development of America’s natural gas industry. Pop culture can be a powerful means to sway public opinion. While Promised Land, like anti-fracking documentary Gasland, appears to inflate the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, it may have an impact on the public’s view of the practice.
Matt Damon is a longtime Democratic partisan. Though he has voiced criticisms of Barack Obama, he donated $4,600 in 2008 to then-candidate Obama. Damon also co-hosted a star-studded fundraiser for Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren in Hollywood that netted the “Native American” candidate $250,000.
This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Green movement. It isn’t just that the UAE is doing this for biz reasons (there are plenty of places that want to buy energy that don’t care about Green Tech). The reason the UAE is doing this is for public relations reasons. America needs to be autonomous of this public relations culture on the surface that reveals hardline tyranny.
PS: wasn’t it Mother Jones who showcased Carter’s video of Romney? and what totalitarian regimes did Mother Jones Rep? For starters Muammar Kaddaffi. Why are we falling for this? Why is it offensive to shout out the truth?
KARACHI, Pakistan, May 22 (UPI) — A U.S. diplomat in Pakistan accused Saudi and Gulf groups of bankrolling Islamic extremists in a cable revealed by WikiLeaks Sunday.
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported Bryan Hunt, then consul in Lahore, sent the message to the State Department in November 2008, citing local officials and his visits to south Punjab.
Hunt wrote, “Financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith clerics in south Punjab from organizations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.”
He said local informants had described a “sophisticated jihadi recruitment network” to him.
Muslim “charities” funding a network of radical mosques and madrassas preyed on “families with multiple children” and “severe financial difficulties,” recruiting their sons into schools and paying bounties for them, Hunt wrote.
Those youths found most inclined to “martyrdom” would be “chosen for jihad” and sent to “more sophisticated indoctrination camps,” which he identified, and eventually off to the North-West Frontier province to launch attacks.
Local officials were doing little to stop the extremists, Hunt wrote.
He may have greeted Abu Bluff for the sake of form, but a cable released by Wikileaks reported that Bahrainian King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa told then US ambassador William Monroe in 2005 that he was in touch with the Mossad.
“[The king] revealed that Bahrain already has contacts with Israel at the intelligence/security level (ie with Mossad) and indicated that Bahrain will be willing to move forward in other areas,” the cable said.
The king also told the ambassador that he had ordered his public information minister to stop calling Israel the “enemy” or the “Zionist entity” in official statements of the kingdom, said the cable, which was released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
The Israeli newspapers Haaretz and Yedioth Ahronoth recently published reports based on the cable.
The cable’s revelation comes at a delicate time for Bahrain’s Sunni royal family, which invited troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states last month to help quell an uprising by the country’s Shiite majority.
“In the Arab world, they hate this sort of thing and in Bahrain I’m sure it will be yet another sin [for the opposition] to beat the government with,” said Simon Henderson, a Gulf anaylst for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
“It will also not be particularly welcomed by supporters of the government, even though they might half understand that to counter Iran, the government needs to deal with a whole variety of people,” he said.
Bahraini officials could not be reached for comment.
A leading pro-government lawmaker insisted that the information about contacts with Mossad “cannot be true” because Bahraini intelligence officers “still consider [Israel] an enemy.”
Israel has also had contact with Qatar, Oman and the UAE. Read the whole thing.
But according to cables previously released by WikiLeaks, Israel has maintained covert ties with several Arab states — particularly those in the Persian Gulf, like Bahrain, that fear Iran’s spreading influence.
For example, a March 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv quotes Yaacov Hadas, a senior Israeli foreign ministry official, describing Israel’s growing engagement with the Gulf states.
“Hadas said the Gulf Arabs believe in Israel’s role because of their perception of Israel’s close relationship with the U.S. but also due to their sense that they can count on Israel against Iran. ‘They believe Israel can work magic,’ Hadas commented,” the cable says.
That cable described Israel’s ties with Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, but not Bahrain.