Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Iranians like American made goods-smugglers supply them

says a Bloomberg report titled "Dubai Dhow Captains Defy U.S. Sanctions With Shipments to Iran." Says the report:
"Sailors with skin baked to leather by the Persian Gulf sun stack Hewlett-Packard Co. laser-jet printers alongside a 40-foot wooden dhow in Dubai Creek as Ali Reza, an Iranian merchant, watches them sweat. From his base in Dubai, the second-biggest member of the United Arab Emirates, Reza ships General Electric Corp. refrigerators and other American-branded products to Iran, even though re-exporting them is banned under U.S. sanctions. Within days, the printers will be snapped up by buyers in Iran. ``Anything made in America is popular,'' Reza, 55, says as his crew prepares for another voyage."

"The U.S. military inadvertently provides protection for dhows plying the Gulf. Coalition forces are charged with guarding Iraq's offshore oil facilities and check vessels sailing through the Strait of Hormuz for weapons. ``The pirates and the weather are our enemies,'' says Mohammed Ali Hussein, a 35-year-old boat captain who makes the journey to Iran about once a month. ``If we're lucky, our route will take us near Iraqi oil installations. That is a safe area.''

I'd like to see an estimate of US exports to Iran through this channel. According to the article, " Customs laws in the United Arab Emirates mean that officials only look at the port of origin for a cargo. With most of the U.S. goods coming through Asia, there are no legal grounds to seize them, says Marwan Ali Hasan, an inspector in Dubai."

Also, how does the US Navy tell the difference between a pirate and a smuggler? Nobody's flying a skull and crossbones...

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