Robert Fisk: Passport to the truth in Dubai remains secret

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It's a propaganda war. Whoever killed the Hamas official in Dubai – let's speak frankly – it's part of an old, dirty war between the Israelis and the Palestinians in which they have been murdering their secret police antagonists for decades. Whose were the passports? Or should we say "passports". So here's a moment to reflect on realities.

Many Dubaians believe that the collapse of the emirate's economy last year was the revenge of Western banks – spurred on, of course, by the Americans – to punish them for allowing Iranian shell companies to use Dubai as a sanctions-busting base during the cold-hot war between the US-Israeli alliance and Iran. Now the Americans (or the Israelis – you can take your pick) want to turn Dubai into the Beirut of the Gulf. That was actually a headline last week – in The Jerusalem Post, of course – which painted Dubai as dangerous as it was economically calamitous.

But hold on a minute. According to a Dubai "source" of The Independent – readers will have to judge what this means – the security forces of the aforesaid emirate informed a "British diplomat" in Dubai (presumably the consul, since the embassy is in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi) of the UK passport details almost six days ago and "did not receive an appropriate reply". If this is true – the Foreign Office will be wrathful in its denials – then why didn't the British immediately express their outrage at the use of forged British passports and cough up details of the equally outrageous frauds a week ago? This misuse puts every British citizen at risk.

Yet the Foreign Office – so keen to warn British citizens of the dangers they face in the Middle East – sat on their large behind and did bugger all. I'm sorry. If they had the details, they had a duty to UK citizens to speak up. If they hadn't got the details, they should have told us. But they were silent. Why? Was there a cold breeze coming beneath a closed door?

Far too many police forces are now sending their minions to Israel to learn about "terror". The Canadians actually dispatched a team of cops to Tel Aviv who allowed themselves to wear "suicide vests" for publicity pictures. Air France now hands the US details of all its passengers' profiles – which, of course, go straight to the Israelis – despite the fact that Israeli security officers (like hundreds of Arab security officers in the Middle East) may well be involved in war crimes.

Now a small addendum. The Dubai authorities apparently gave the British the (allegedly) forged Irish passports under the misapprehension that Dublin was still a major city of the United Kingdom. Things, needless to say, changed in Dublin almost a hundred years ago – although how many readers can name the date of Dubai's independence from British rule? – but this elementary mistake suggests that the Dubai version of events (the inexplicable failure of the British to explain their silence) may contain a distressing truth. Don't we (the British? Gordon Brown? etc, etc) care when killers use supposedly British passports?

It is too soon to give a reply. But I should add that the Dubai authorities have other information which they have not yet revealed. The world awaits.

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