Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Gulf Run

Ken Silverstein has been running an interesting symposium of experts over at Harper's on the possibility of war with Iran. The consensus seems to be: well, we don't know whether it's going to happen, but it would be crazy and we're really worried.

In the second dispatch of the series, I learned something new. It's a small thing, but it struck my imagination. From Unnamed CIA Official #1:
Every night, members of the Revolutionary Guard pack up their speed boats with rugs and crafts, really pricey stuff. They weave their way through all the traffic on the Gulf and sell the stuff on remote areas of beach just north of Sharjah, Ajman, and Umm al Qaywayn. They off-load and sell their goods and then load up with Jack Daniels, porn, CDs, electronics, satellite receivers, and computers, and weave their way back through traffic to Iran. At 3 a.m. on a moonless night, one of those boats speeding across the Gulf could easily cross the defensive radar signature of a U.S. frigate, and it's going to get shot up. So you have a situation that is essentially an accident, and all of a sudden you have a crisis.
Every night the smugglers make this run? Wow.

I have four mostly silly reactions to this. A) That sounds really dangerous. B) I would like one of those rugs. C) This has got to be winked at by both the Iranian and the UAE governments: just another case of trade sanctions leading to black market practices, I guess. D) The expertise those smugglers are getting with the waters of that area could make them nasty saboteurs.

(hat tip: Jonathan Schwartz, who has declared his site to be going "all Iran, all the time.")


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