Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Question About that UAE Port-Running Company

So, is there actually any substantive reason that this particular company is unqualified to run the ports? (I've seen some vague speculation about behind-the-scenes links to Bush, but Bush only ever gives jobs to people he already knows, so there's nothing particularly special there.)

As far as I can tell, the uproar comes down to "Oh, no! We can't let the towelheads run our ports! They'll let all of their nuclear-bomb toting cousins in!" And that's monumentally stupid, even by the standards of the American public.

My local paper (The Record of Hackensack, NJ) quotes a bunch of yahoos who are angry for no specific reason, and then notes that two of the 9/11 hijackers came from the UAE (as, I imagine, the closest thing they can find to a fact amid the noise). Of course, the company running the port of Newark now (P&O Ports North America) is based in the UK, and all four of the July 7th London bombers were British. So, if we're tarring countries with the terrorist brush, the UK has twice as many confirmed suicide bombers as the UAE.

I have no opinion about whether Dubai Ports World (the company in question) is qualified to do the job; I simply don't know. (On the other hand, they seem to be a major world-wide player in this area, and are buying the company currently running the operations. That seems to indicate that they know what they're doing.) But the people complaining about them seem to be doing so merely because it's a company headquartered in an Arab country, which is just asinine.

1 comment:

Ran said...

I think the lack of knowledge regarding the UAE, its level of control of the company, and its relations (past and present) to terrorism are a major motivator behind all of this. I, too, was concerned that the initial impulse was so clearly anti-Arab, but at least now some substantive reasons for wanting to examine the deal further have come forward.

The main substantive issue with regards to the UAE is that pre-9/11 members of the royal family/government were fairly cozy with Osama bin Laden, and in fact the 9/11 report cites a planned attempt to take out bin Laden in one of his camps being scrubbed by the Clinton administration, because there was fear that the collateral damage might include UAE princes or senior ministers who were present at the time.

By all accounts, the UAE has been extremely cooperative post-9/11. But then, so has Saudi Arabia, and it's fairly well known that some members of their government aren't all _that_ enthusiastic about aiding the U.S. against bin Laden and the like.

If there are members of the UAE royal family or government who feel the same, I think it's reasonable to investigate to what degree such elements within the UAE government can negatively impact American security through manipulation of DPW .

It hasn't helped settle anyone's concerns to read in the papers that the President didn't really know anything was going on until the deal was approved and got into the news, or that Donald Rumsfeld says he's only learned about it recently even though he sits on a board that had to put its stamp of approval on the deal.

Really, this whole mess would have been avoided, I suspect, if the White House had acted more openly on this particular matter, or even paid more attention to it than they appear to have done.

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