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Do economic sanctions against Iran work?

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-02-21

Sanctions are used by the United States and its allies to try and force Iran to abandon its nuclear programme. The US also has asked Iran's Middle Eastern neighbors to comply. For the country of Dubai it is difficult, perhaps impossible.

Dubai, a leading commercial hub in the Middle East, has always been a centre of trade, including with its neighbour Iran - to which it exported 14 billion dollars in goods last year.

For the Islamic republic, Dubai is the last open door to the world but for the United States it is the oxygen keeping the Tehran regime alive. The Emirate is stuck - between its ally and its neighbour.

Dubai doesn’t toe the US line, so Washington has resorted to attacking the financing of trade. After Iranian banks, international banks are being targeted. In the old port of Dubai, Abdol Khalifeh - an Iranian with an import-export firm - is bearing the brunt.

Washington’s policy has forced international banks in Dubai to keep Iranian customers at arm's length.   The US is watching and the banks are panicking. This message is being sent to their employees as well, as heard in part of a recording taken at an internal seminar: "What are the hot topics in Washington?," asks a man in the tape. "Obviously Iran. So if you have clients that involve you in letters of credit and you are aware that there is an importer in Iran, you need to address the compliance risk of that type of business. You don't want to have to be digging out of a mess."

Terrified of legal action in the US, banks are taking every precaution and there is an unspoken boycott.

Date created : 2009-02-21