1 thought on “The UAE and Iran sanctions”

  1. Nick Stadtmiller

    That Halkbank was facilitating trade flows around US sanctions on Iran was an open secret in Dubai, long before anyone had heard of Reza Zarrab. I heard this openly discussed in cocktail parties during those years, with one Iranian trader, drink in hand and unprompted, explicitly explaining to me how he used a Halkbank account to handle payments for his trading business.
    Other Dubai banks were involved in similar schemes, although they escaped the much heavier sanctions Halkbank now faces. As I recall, Noor Bank was caught up in the fray.
    It’s also important to distinguish here between Dubai and Abu Dhabi within the UAE. Dubai has long taken a much more accepting stance of Iranian trade. A considerable portion of the Dubai Emirati population is of Iranian decent (not the case in Abu Dhabi), and Dubai historically depended much more on the economic impact Iranian foreign trade being routed through the emirate. In addition, the Dubai property market was a popular destination for Iranian investors looking to park their money in a safe haven.
    Abu Dhabi on the other hand has long cast a suspicious eye on Iran. While Dubai economic policy is locally set, UAE immigration, international and security policies are all largely controlled by Abu Dhabi.
    There has long been a simmering conflict between the two emirates over the UAE’s overall approach to Iran. The tensions have not resulted in public spats, but they have created confusing and often contradictory policies at the emirate and national levels (one row over visas for foreign property holders, which largely impacted Iranian nationals, comes to mind as a prominent example).

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