Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Ras al-Khaimah "coup": The Georgian connection

The 2003 coup in the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah concluded when the UAE military took to the streets and restored order.  The UAE military would only have been involved if approval had come from the highest level ie the President with the approval, implicit or otherwise, of the rulers of the other Emirates.  Staging any sort of 'takeover' in RAK now would be to take a stand against, not just the current rulers of RAK, but the authority of federal law in the UAE. 
This piece from the Georgia Media Centre makes for interesting reading.
Source: Georgia Media Centre
Events in a small Gulf emirate could be about to turn Georgian politics upside down, with the ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, part of the United Arab Emirates, facing the prospect of being dethroned by the country's former ruler, Sheikh Khalid bin Saqr al-Qasimi.
Khalid was overthrown by his brother and father in 2003 - allegedly because he sought to improve women's rights in the absolutist statelet, whose name means "top of the tent" in Arabic.
Now, reports London's Guardian, Khalid is in the UAE negotiating to return to power - the culmination of a multi-million dollar campaign to return to the throne which, rather incongruously, seems to have been run out of a family solictor's office in the London suburb of Uxbridge.
The significance for Georgia is, following the Rose Revolution of late 2003, the new rulers of Ras al-Khaimah became the biggest single foreign investors in Georgia, through the state-owed Ras al-Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA).
The standard drill has been for RAKIA to get given an asset at a knock-down price (often because it was seized from the owners) and then, at least in theory, invest money. The signs for Rakeen - RAKIA's property arm - are a common sight around Tbilisi (such as Mtatsminda Park - pictured), but often the investment seems to be slower to follow.
RAKIA were also said to have financed the purchase of Imedi TV from Joseph Kay - the controversal US-based businessman who claimed that station founder Badri Patarkatsishvili had willed the station to him (a claim fiercely disputed by the widow and family of Patarkatsishvili, who died in England in 2008 after being forced into exile by the Saakashvili regime).
Joesph Kay, while protected in Georgia by the country's notoriously pliant courts, began to lose case after case to Patarkatsishvili's family and earlier this year the Ras al-Khaimah aithorities, in a less than fully convincing fashion, denied having ever been involved with Imedi.
If the current rulers of the emirate fall there could be profound implications for the Georgian government's finances and propaganda machine.

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