Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dirty Work at the Dubai Crossroads

A NORWEGIAN woman was pardoned and released a few days ago after an international outcry over her prison sentence in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, after she reported a rape. 
Her case was a reminder that there's more to the Emirates than super luxury hotels and highly profitable business deals, but it was also greeted cheerfully by an Israeli Facebook troll as yet more evidence of what terrible places the Arab Muslim states are.

He and his fellow hasbaraniks should not be so harsh.  To judge from recent Israeli TV news reports at least one of his prominent countrymen has found Dubai and the Emirates an excellent place to visit and do business in.  This was Tamir Pardo, the current chief of Mossad.    
My fellow blogger Richard Silverstein (Tikkun Olam) comments:
"If I were an Iranian intelligence official I’d be following very closely the travel schedule of Tamir Pardo, Israel’s Mossad chief.  Last month, he visited his Turkish counterpart.  Four weeks later, Israeli bombers flew from a Turkish airbase to attack the Syrian government weapons depot at Latakia, where they destroyed advanced Russian Yakhont anti-ship missiles.

"Two Israeli TV news reports affirm that Pardo recently visited the United Arab Emirates.  UAE is one of the bastions of the anti-Iran resistance among the Gulf states.  I revealed a few weeks ago that the Israeli budget contains a secret allocation for establishing a military-intelligence coordination facility in the UAE.  It would place Israeli agents and analysts in the Gulf so they can devise aggressive operations against Iran, together with their Arab peers from the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, etc."

As Richard reminds us, it was in the Emirates that Mossad is assumed to have organised the assassination of Mahmoud al Mabouh, who was said to be a Hamas representative arranging arms deals with Iran.  The authorities in Dubai investigated, and declared Bibi Netanyahu and then Mossad chief Meir Dagan to be criminals, to be added to the Interpol red list.  They were even reported to be banning Israelis from entering their territory.

This episode may also have had a bearing on the secret detention and supposed suicide in an Israeli prison of Australian-born Mossad agent Ben Zygier. The Australian government had been angered to learn that Mossad agents in the Mabou killing had travelled on Australian passports. But Pardo, who threatened to resign over allegations about Ben Zygier is still at his post, and appears to have had no trouble entering the Emirates. It seems he was on leave when the assassination was carried out.

Meanwhile, as US-sponsored talks between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority open, another interesting story reaches us from Dubai. It may not have any connection with the Mossad chief's visit, but it is reported that a  member of the Fatah Central Committee has filed an international lawsuit against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claiming Abbas was the author of a campaign of intimidation against him, and saying corruption in the PA is harming the Palestinian people.

In his suit, Mohammed Dahlan, who was previously associated with both Mossad and the CIA in attempts to stage a coup in Gaza,  and accused of torture of political oppnents, and corruption,  seeks the restoration of his former position in the PA administration and of property confiscated from him, as well as an assurance that he would not be harmed if he returned to Palestinian Authority territory.
Dahlan, who currently resides in Dubai and Europe, hired an Israeli law firm to file the complaint with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronot reported on Wednesday. The firm is run by Zaki Kamal, the deputy president of the Israel Bar Association, and his son, Kamal Kamal.
Dahlan claimed in his suit that Abbas was out to get him because he was seen as a potential competitor for the leadership of the PA. Dahlan accused the Palestinian leader of “tyrannical behavior the utter corruption of which, along with the corruption of his family, is damaging to the Palestinian people and the authority’s institutions,” the report said.
A copy of the suit was sent to Abbas, with no response; copies were then sent to UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry, the Human Rights Commission, the secretary of the European Union, and Quartet representative Tony Blair.
“I and my family have for a long time been subjected to terror and harassment, persecution, arrests, defamation, threats to life and damage to property,” Dahlan wrote. “The campaign against me knows no moral or legal limits, nor even national boundaries.”
A former head of the Palestinian internal security services in Gaza, Dahlan accused the PA of being a corrupt institution under Abbas’s thumb.

Many Palestinians, whatever their views on Abbas, regard Dahlan's accusations as to say the least ironic. As a Fathah member Dahlan was chosen to head the Preventive Security Force in Gaza after the signing of the Oslo Accords. He built up a force of 20,000 men, making him one of the most powerful Palestinian leaders, dealing regularly with the CIA and Israeli intelligence officials. His forces were accused of torturing Hamas detainees throughout the 1990s.  His reputation was damaged in the Karni scandal of 1997 when it was revealed that he was diverting 40% of the taxes levied at the Karni Crossing (an estimated one million Shekels a month) to his personal bank account. 
Having tried to take over Gaza in a coup that failed, Dahlan and his supporters were ousted, and went to the West Bank. But Two years ago he was expelled from the territories after Abbas suspected him of organizing a coup. Since then he has been become a wealthy businessman and one of the closest confidants of the royal family in the UAE.

If his new moves against Abbas are connected with the Mossad visit, it looks as though the already weak Abbas will be expected to negotiate with a knife at his back, as well as the bullying Israeli government at his front.

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