Stirling calls for evacuation of British prisoners in UAE
The unthinkable is happening right now in the UAE. After decades as one of the few countries in the Arabian Gulf to not be targeted in terrorist attacks, the United Arab Emirates has suffered multiple drone and missile strikes over the past several days. The Emirates’ 6 year involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels has made the country a target for terrorist vengeance which has already left at least 3 people dead and 6 injured.
The Houthis have vowed to continue attacks on the capital Abu Dhabi, as well as threatening to hit locations in Dubai vital to the UAE’s tourism and financial sectors. Drone strikes have caused explosions in Musaffah and in the vicinity of Abu Dhabi International Airport. The Houthis have published threats online against multiple targets, including the iconic Burj al Arab and Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The situation is escalating rapidly, and for the first time in recent memory, the UAE appears to be descending into the turmoil of violent regional conflict, leading to serious fears about the safety of foreign nationals in the country; particularly those wrongfully trapped in detention facilities.
“We have received reports from British inmates in the UAE that explosions are literally shaking the walls of the prison,” says Radha Stirling, CEO and founder of Detained in Dubai, “Billy Hood, who is currently incarcerated on absolutely ludicrous charges in Dubai, and whose case is already well known in the UK, has communicated that prisoners can hear blasts nearby the jail, and inmates are in fear of their lives. The British government should have already intervened to secure Billy’s release, along with many other wrongfully detained citizens, like Albert Douglas; but the situation is of the utmost urgency at the moment, as the UAE cannot guarantee their safety. We are calling for the immediate release and repatriation of all British nationals currently being held in the UAE.”
Stirling further warns that the conflict has the potential for becoming dramatically worse, “The Emirates has not suffered violent attacks since the Gulf War, and even then, it was never a primary or direct target. But they have been an integral and, in many ways, a leading force in the Yemen military campaign against the Houthis, who are financially and militarily supported by Iran – the sworn enemy of both Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This conflict can spiral into a full-scale regional war very quickly”.
Analysts have long characterised the Yemen conflict as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran, and as hope fades for the resuscitation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Tehran may feel they have nothing to lose by escalating the war to a direct engagement with the Arab Gulf States.
“Iran has ensured that the Houthis are well-funded and well-armed,” Stirling explains, “There is no question that the UAE will interpret the Houthi attacks as originating from Iran, not Yemen; so the conflict could easily shift from being a contained proxy war into a very high-stakes direct confrontation between Iran, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.”
Commenting on the specific danger for British detainees in the UAE, Stirling explains, “Saudi and Emirati forces conducted airstrikes against a Houthi-run prison on Saturday as a reprisal for the attacks on the UAE, there is every reason to believe that the Houthis will respond in-kind by targeting detention facilities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The British government needs to insist on the evacuation of their citizens from the UAE’s prisons and bring them home before it’s too late. These are people who should never have been jailed in the first place and they are now stranded as veritable sitting ducks whom the UAE have placed in even greater risk of being victims of tit-for-tat airstrikes by Houthi rebels. There is no time for diplomatic courtesies, our citizens have to be taken out of harm’s way before their unjust detentions turn into a death sentence.”
Detained in Dubai: http://www.detainedindubai.org