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U.A.E. Blacklists Individuals And Companies For Ties To IRGC

Days before hosting US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, United Arab Emirates (UAE) has placed nine Iranian individuals and entities on its list for supporting terrorism and transferring funds to the Iranian Revolution Guards Corp (IRGC).

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit Abu Dhabi on Monday next week, where he is expecting to meet senior Emirati officials.

The UAE has repeatedly supported US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Furthermore, UAE is a staunch supporter of Washington's demand that Iran makes widespread changes in its foreign policy or face economic sanctions.

"Uniting (our) efforts is the correct path for Iran to realize the futility of its incursions and expansionism," UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash wrote on his official Twitter account, several hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a policy speech on Iran, on May 21.

The UAE, an American-allied federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, hosts some 5,000 U.S. troops. Dubai also is the U.S. Navy’s busiest port of call abroad.

According to the authorities of the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (Esca), the move to freeze the accounts of nine Iranian individuals and entities is in line with the local Ministerial Resolution No. 24 of 2018.

Although UAE has not disclosed the names of the nine Iranian entities and individuals, but they are apparently the same suspects that US Department of Treasury listed as supporters of terrorism, last May.

The suspects were named at the time as Mas’ud Nikbakht, Sa’id Najafpur, Mohammad Hassan Khoda’i, Mohammad Reza Khedmati Valadzghard, Meghdad Amini, Foad Salehi, as well as Jahan Aras Kish, Rashed Exchange and Khedmati & Company Joint Partnership.

Department of Treasury announced in a statement, on May 11 that the United States and United Arab Emirates disrupted a large scale currency exchange network transferring millions of dollars to Iran’s IRGC -Qods Force.

“Today the US and the UAE jointly took action to disrupt an extensive currency exchange network in Iran and the UAE that has procured and transferred millions in U.S. dollar-denominated bulk cash to Iran’s IRGC-QF) to fund its malign activities and regional proxy groups,” the statement said.

Furthermore, US Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin noted, “Iran’s Central Bank was complicit in the IRGC-QF’s scheme and actively supported this network’s currency conversion and enabled its access to funds that it held in its foreign bank accounts. This network of exchangers and couriers has converted hundreds of millions of dollars,” adding, “The Iranian regime and its Central Bank have abused access to entities in the UAE to acquire U.S. dollars to fund the IRGC-QF’s malign activities, including to fund and arm its regional proxy groups, by concealing the purpose for which the U.S. dollars were acquired.”

Apparently in a parallel policy, the state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. issued a surprise statement June 3 declaring it has an oil production capacity of 3.3 million barrels per day. It added that it “remains on track to increase its production capacity to 3.5 million (barrels per day) by the end of 2018.”

The company also maintained it “has the ability to increase oil production by several hundred thousand barrels of oil per day, should this be required to help alleviate any potential supply shortage in the market.”

The statement came as the U.S. is pressuring other countries not to buy Iranian oil and is asking other OPEC producers, such as Saudi Arabia to increase production, to meet demand.

Responding to UAE’s comments on being capable of increasing its oil production, Tehran issued a warning.

Speaking to Iranian expatriates Monday night in Switzerland, where he was on an official visit, President Hassan Rouhani implicitly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz and warned, “if Iran’s crude oil exports were threatened, the rest of the Mideast’s would be as well,” AP reported on Tuesday, July 3.

The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which patrols the region, has said it has not seen any “unsafe and unprofessional” actions by Iranian naval forces in the Persian Gulf since August 2017, AP said, adding, “It did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday over Rouhani’s remarks.”