Ominous developments in the UAE (2)

September 7, 2009

In News

The United Arab Emirates has started a campaign to deport a number of Lebanese and Palestinians, who think they are close to the resistance factions. Concerned parties assert that they are wrongfully targeted, but that people affected are citizens who have spent years in foreign countries, and have lost in few days of all what they have built.

Hassan Oleik reports:

More than 45 Lebanese businessmen have been removed by the security authorities in the United Arab Emirates, during the past two months and prevented them from returning to their jobs, although some had spent in the latter country more than twenty years. Reasons are unknown to most of the deported, but what was said by the UAE authorities is that the decisions were made on security grounds, though none of them were involved in any legal problem in that area, over the years they had spent in foreign countries. But what is striking in the case of those expelled from the Lebanese, is that they all belong to the Shi’ite community, and most of them had, before the decision to deport him, a call to work as informants for the UAE security services, in order to gather information about the community in the UAE, and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The case began a few years ago, when reports began to reach those involved in the security official and Hezbollah intelligence information about the activity the Moderate Arab States against Hezbollah. And reports that a number of Lebanese workers in the UAE have received job offers as informants, to gather information on Hezbollah. A former expat confirms that a UAE security officer threatened him with deportation if he did not accept to work with him, and when he refused, he was offered the amount of money determined by the exchange to provide him with information on the leaders of the resistance activists in his village in Southern Lebanon. As the young man insisted that he would not incline to their offer he was deported.

However, this phenomenon has remained limited, prior to intensify after the July 2006 war, leading to a peak during the previous year. However, it did not include all Lebanese, as it was limited to a selected number of them. But what happened during the past three months was a quantum leap in this context, the emphasis was now on the number of businessmen of successful Lebanese Shi’ites in the UAE, in addition to the number of people who have spent many years there and they had succeeded in their independent professions.

Sources link this shift to a follow-up of the file that comes in the framework of the U.S. campaign carried out by the so-called countries of «Arab moderation» against resistance movements. Although UAE’s move against the Lebanese is limited to those belonging to the Shiite sect, but it also included decisions on deportation of Palestinian Gazans, Hamas supporters.

One of the exiled Lebanese confirmed that the number of those deported from the UAE amounted to some 100, «Although we are confirmed about the 45, most of us do not dare to speak of it in the hope of a possible return, if successful channel are activated in the political handling of the case, and the fact that our relatives might be affected” .He adds to our source, that the Investigation Section in the Department of Passports in the UAE has summoned him to one of its centers, to give their officers information about Hezbollah, and the movement of the Lebanese community in the UAE. When the response of the Lebanese citizen that he does not have any confidential information about Hezbollah nor of the Lebanese community, the officer told him that he would be officially banished from the UAE, and he had maximum a week for the liquidation of his work there, and would be prevented from returning to the country where he spent more than 22 years. He pointed out that the same thing that happened to him was adopted almost verbatim with the other deportees.

These measures have been taken even though the Lebanese community in the UAE does not have a coordinating framework, nor do they organize any political activities or religious groups, and has never been a source of any security threat in the country. The source says that one of the exiles working in the UAE for more than 30 years had not faced any problem or legal security for its presence there. Also, the exiled businessman, was not religious, has not done any political or religious activities during that period, (and that he was in the UAE before the rise of Hezbollah) has also never been a supporter of the party. However, in spite of the thirty years he spent in the UAE, the authorities asked him to liquidate his work in one week.

As of yesterday, it seemed some of the deportees have given up on the idea of returning to the UAE, as one of them said to «Al –Akhbar » is never coming back, even if he was allowed to do so, because what happened to him «…is unbelievable! After more than 20 years in the country you and I consider my homeland, expelled without any reason. What is happening is clear and can be described ethnic cleansing ».

After the increase in the pace of deportation, contacts have taken place between President Michel Suleiman and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who is the first of paramount importance. After a discussion between the parties, President Michel Suleiman dispatched to the UAE Republican Guard commander Brigadier General Wadih Ghafari mid last month, to discuss with the security authorities in the deportation order and to clarify to the Emirati officials about the reasons behind their decisions against the Lebanese citizens. Ghafari was chosen for several reasons, most notably the quest to show that the highest official authority in the country is interested in addressing the issue, as well as the fact that Ghafri is a security personal , what fits with the fact that the UAE authorities claimed that the reasons for removal was of security. According to informed sources, the UAE’s side promised to send a response to the questions asked by Lebanon within 10 days. Despite the secrecy that circles the Republican Palace in Lebanon on the content of the response, people were surprised by the news of new exiles two days ago of a Lebanese businessman from the UAE. This story was left without a confirmation.

There is heightened fears about the connection of making the UAE a U.S. campaign against the resistance, its quest for drying what the U.S. administration and the Israelis think as a source of funding Hezbollah, is synchronized with a similar decision that was issued in Ivory Coast.

On the sixth of last August, the authorities in Ivory Coast prevented the Lebanese cleric Abdel-Moneim Qubeisi access to Abidjan. Qubeisi, who holds an Ivory Coast nationality and home to more than 20 years, was returning from Beirut to the country, to which is considered to be the Imam of the Lebanese community. The decision to ban the entry of Qubeisi to Abidjan after more than two months after a decision by the U.S. Treasury to freeze his assets and impose financial and trade embargo on dealing with him, because, according to a statement issued by the statement of the U.S. Treasury Department, « He supports Hezbollah and lives in the Ivory Coast, he is the Personal Representative The Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah. He has hosted a number of prominent party officials during their visit to Africa to raise funds ». The resolution imposed the same actions against the Lebanese businessman in Sierra Leone Taj al-Din Qassem, on charges of financing and the establishment of front companies to support Hezbollah in Africa.

And well-informed source confirms of the situation of the Lebanese community and the Lebanese ambassador to Abidjan in Ivory Coast, Ali Ajami, under the guidance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon, followed up the Qubeisi’s issue with the Ivorian authorities, but nothing positive has immersed. The Minister of Interior of Ivory Coast has met a delegation from the Lebanese community, who told them explicitly that the decision to deport Qubeisi was due to pressure exercised by the US Administration. And passed on a message from the Minister of Interior saying that the US administration had requested the arrest of Qubeisi, but the Ivorian authorities considered the banishment sufficient .

Close observers of the situation of the Lebanese communities and of the Qubeissi’s issue fall in the context of vigorous follow-up of U.S. intelligence to the Lebanese community in West Africa, and being incited by the Israeli officials, by saying that Hezbollah is active in the region, and that the party intends to conduct operations where the Israelis, in framework of responding to the assassination of the military commander Imad Mughniyah. The same sources pointed out that Qubeisi has no organizational links to the party, and his relationship with the party deputies is in the framework of communication with all public officials who seek to Ivory Coast periodically to monitor the situation of the community. In addition, the Ivorian authorities did not highlight any security or judicial file on the work of security for Hezbollah.

And from Gaza, Qais Al Safadi correspondent of «Al –Akhbar », wrote that the Department of Refugee Affairs of the Movement «Hamas» unveiled a broad campaign aimed at the expulsion of Palestinians of Gaza origins living in the Arab Emirates who had roots in the Gaza Strip.
Said Hussam Ahmed, head of the department informed «Al-Akhbar» that The Ministry of Interior in the UAE, was overseeing the implementation of the eviction campaign, and recognizes the Palestinian warnings to leave the country within a short period not exceeding three days, and were only subjected to legal accountability. He said the authorities in the UAE have already implemented the expulsions of about 350 Palestinians in Al Ain alone, as well as others in the Emirate of Sharjah, all of them are of Gazzan origins and hold Egyptian travel documents and temporary Jordanian passports.

The Department of Refugee Affairs of the «Hamas» Movement received many complaints from Palestinians who have been warned of expulsion, but they asked to hide their names in the hope of their survival in the UAE, where they worked and contributed to the construction of the country ; stressing that «the Palestinians shovels are building tools, not demolishing! They have contributed to the building of communities in which they have lived after their displacement, and maintained the security of States in which they resided in, as maintained by its natives ».

Said pointed out that the UAE has expelled the Palestinians into the unknown, where their fate would inevitably the displacement between the borders of Arab counties, which do not entitle the owners of the documents and passports temporary entry into their territories.

The Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas on Wednesday night appealed to the UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed to reconsider this decision, pointing out that he had talked by telephone with the advent of the holy month of Ramadan and stressed the strength and depth of the relationship with the UAE.

Friday’s Issue, 4th of September, 2009