The Canadian military is poised to pull its forces out of a secret military base near Dubai that's used as a staging ground for troops serving in Afghanistan, rather than relent to demands made by the United Arab Emirates, CTV News has learned.

The UAE threatened to close the base unless Canada gave additional landing rights to its two commercial airlines, Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways -- including for direct routes to Calgary and Vancouver.

An insider told CTV News that Canada was essentially being used as a pawn in heavy-handed blackmail. Transport Canada and Air Canada opposed the move.

The Conservative government told UAE that it would rather give up the base than give in to unacceptable demands, senior officials told CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife.

The Canadian military has already carried out two supply missions from an air base in Cyprus to Kandahar, making Cyprus the new transit point.

Officials have also asked Pakistan to use its air bases when Canada withdraws its forces from Afghanistan next year.

The Canadian military will not say exactly where the base -- known as Camp Mirage -- is located, although its existence is an open secret. The base even has its own Wikipedia entry.

With a report by CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife