While I often refer to Iraq as America's 51st state, it has become increasingly clear that we have quietly acquired a 52nd state as well in the Middle East; that being the "country" otherwise known as the United Arab Emirates, home of mega-billionaire princes some of whom have been known to go on hunting expeditions with Osama bin Laden.
This ostensibly independent country hosts more US naval vessels than any other port outside of the US. The UAE allows the US Navy to use the vital port of Jebel Ali (managed by Dubai Ports World remember them?) which is the only port deep enough in the Persian Gulf to handle our aircraft carriers. There is another port at Fujairah and the US Air Force also uses the al Dhafra Air Base for surveillance, tankers and reconnaissance aircraft. In addition, the UAE also hosts the Air Warfare Center, established in 2003 by the US, Britain and France, to serve as a regional training center for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
The country is a shining example of the kind of democracy that we are trying to spread in the Middle Eas as explained in the Asia Times:
In this federation of hereditary sheikhdoms, referred to by the US government as a "constitutional republic", only 15-20% of the population are considered locals and enjoy some form of social security and public services, and there is no electoral system to express the "national" will of the privileged citizens.
A "constitutional republic" you don't say? Where only 15-20% of the people are considered full citizens? The other 80% of the UAE's people are mostly indentured servants from South Asia, Iran, and the Arab countries who perform the manual labor that keeps the UAE economy humming. These second-class citizens are summarily dispensed with when they can no longer work:
Once there is nothing left to extract from these migrant slaves, their prematurely aged and worn-out bodies will be shipped back to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to be secured by the non-existent social safety nets of their countries of origin. While the UAE, thanks to the maps created by the British, has the second highest gross domestic product per capita in the world, its million-plus guest-slaves are grossly underpaid as they are held hostage, their passports in the hands of their Arab employers.
Not only that, but the UAE is a leader in the sex slave trade with both women and children being trafficked into the country for the pleasure of the ruling elites:
The United Arab Emirates is a destination country for men, women, and children trafficked from South and East Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East for involuntary servitude and for sexual exploitation; an estimated 10,000 women from sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, South and East Asia, Iraq, Iran, and Morocco may be victims of sex trafficking in the UAE; women also migrate from Africa, and South and Southeast Asia to work as domestic servants, but may have their passports confiscated, be denied permission to leave the place of employment in the home, or face sexual or physical abuse by their employers; men from South Asia come to the UAE to work in the construction industry, but may be subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude as they are coerced to pay off recruitment and travel costs, sometimes having their wages denied for months at a time; victims of child camel jockey trafficking may still remain in the UAE, despite a July 2005 law banning the practice; while all identified victims were repatriated at the government's expense to their home countries, questions persist as to the effectiveness of the ban and the true number of victims.
The country also serves as a transshipment point for Aghan opium that is fueling al Qaeda activities in that region:
The UAE is a drug transshipment point for traffickers given its proximity to Southwest Asian drug-producing countries; the UAE's position as a major financial center makes it vulnerable to money laundering; anti-money-laundering controls improving, but informal banking remains unregulated.
The Asia Times article linked above discusses the dispute over the name of what we all refer to as the "Persian" Gulf. It seems the nationalistic and righteous despots who exploit the UAE's massive wealth for their own personal benefit would like us to refer to it as the "Arabian" Gulf. It's fine with me if they want to call it the "Arabian" Gulf, just so long as we can call the UAE the "United American Emirates". After all, we should call it what it is.
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