Is it a public relations offensive meant to ease pressure on it from the United States, or is the United Arab Emirates finally cracking down on illicit trade with Iran?
The Dubai-based Gulf News reported Monday that the government has shut down more than 40 companies with alleged links to the Iranian government or the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The UAE, and its glittery city-state of Dubai in particular, have been criticized in the past for acting as a conduit for banned materials and laundered money in and out of Iran.
Earlier this month, the United Nations approved a fourth round of sanctions against Iran, citing its unwillingness to cooperate over its nuclear enrichment program. The sanctions singled out 40 companies linked to Iranian financing, imports and shipping, including 15 tied directly to the Revolutionary Guards.
A number of those companies were based or maintained offices in the Emirates, sometimes hiding behind front companies that were registered in a third country. As a result, all Iranian-owned companies in the UAE have come under suspicion, even those that are not subject to sanctions.
"Everyone is being investigated," Theodore Karasik, director of research and development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, told Babylon & Beyond.
'"These closures have been going on for a while," he said.