Dubai assassination: UAE demands justice but with what leverage?
In the Dubai assassination, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has summoned European ambassadors in an effort to pressure Europe to take action against Israel over its alleged killing of a Hamas commander last month.
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The statement, however, did not directly mention Israel. As of Saturday, Israel said it was not expecting any major diplomatic fallout with Europe, said Danny Ayalon, a deputy foreign minister.Skip to next paragraph
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Dubai has limited leverage
But the Arab emirate has no diplomatic ties with Israel with which to exert pressure, and as an aspiring global city it cannot afford to demonize the country.
Instead the UAE is resorting to pressuring Israel through Europe, on Sunday summoning ambassadors and urging a full investigation into the forged passports, and reiterating that it “fully intends” to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“The UAE is deeply concerned by the fact that passports of close allies, whose nationals currently enjoy preferential visa waivers, were illegally used to commit this crime,” a statement from the foreign ministry read.
But the UAE has few sticks to wave at Europe. “These are, after all, the countries that the UAE cannot function without. They’re its military protectors, they’re its oil-and-gas customers,” says Christopher Davidson, author of “Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success” and a lecturer at the University of Durham in Britain.
Professor Davidson says Dubai is making noise about Europe’s security lapses and Israel’s involvement in the murder to deflect attention away from itself, and would much prefer to have avoided all the international attention that has exploded in the past month.
Indeed the murder has shone an uncomfortable spotlight on Dubai, highlighting the fact that it plays host to controversial figures like Mabhouh, who helped found Hamas’s militant wing, and has been the scene of several high-profile killings, most recently of a Chechen commander and Lebanese pop star.
The death of Mabhouh only began to make news about 10 days after the fact, when his Palestinian supporters began to cry foul, Davidson points out.
“Their hand was forced because Hamas started to discuss it,” he says. “And all the summoning of ambassadors and this and that is a way to disguise” their own mistakes.