Thursday, March 09, 2006

Disproportionate Response
Reveals The Real War
Is About To Begin

While we watch the spectre of a nuclear Iran dancing on the horizon, we are also being treated to what may seem like a sideshow; the United Arab Emirates is threatening the United States with an economic boycott (including a cutting off of oil), if we don't give them the $6 billion port deal.

This is a completely disproportionate response to what is just one deal among many possible deals. The UAE is the wealthiest nation per capita in the entire world. They do not need this deal, and yet, they are willing to pull out all the stops if they don't get it. In fact, as of right now, they say they will not even relinquish their hold on the deal, no matter what our duly elected representatives have to say about it:

DUBAI (Reuters) - Dubai Ports is pressing ahead with a takeover that gives it control of six major U.S. ports despite a Congress committee vote to block the deal, sources familiar with the deal said on Thursday.

Government and company officials in the United Arab Emirates declined comment on Wednesday's vote by U.S. lawmakers to block the deal on the grounds that handing the ports over to a Gulf Arab state-owned firm would threaten U.S. national security.

But the sources said the vote had not taken Dubai Ports any closer to relinquishing the six ports at the center of a political firestorm.

"The vote in the House of Representatives has not change anything in that respect. We are not at that point," one Dubai-based source said.

Analysts said the political furor was bound to provoke businesses in the world's biggest oil exporting region, which is an increasingly important source of financing for the huge U.S. current account deficit.

"It's American double standards. Do you think that businesses and governments here won't react and even retaliate?" said Wadah Al Taha of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

Wednesday's 62-2 vote, by the House Appropriations Committee, will be followed next week by another vote by the full House of Representatives.

Dubai Ports officials said they were pushing ahead with plans to integrate British ports group P&O which runs the U.S. ports. A Dubai Ports spokesman said the company would soon announce the de-listing of P&O now that shareholders had approved the $6.8 billion takeover.

The UAE is a close ally of Washington and a frequent port of call for American warships. Concerns are growing that the fallout from the ports row will affect U.S. economic ties with the Gulf.

UAE Economy Minister Sheikha Lubna al-Qassimi said last week the furor could prompt other countries to divert funds away from the United States.

American businesses in the UAE warned on Wednesday that trade worth more than $8 billion between the United States and the United Arab Emirates could be in jeopardy.

People who read CUANAS may know that I am not opposed to the Dubai port deal, as many of my fellow right-wing bloggers are. However, while I am not against the deal, I can still recognize when a business partner has more invested in a deal than seems reasonable.

If the UAE is willing to declare an economic war on the United States, over a deal they don't need, then that is an indication that they have something else at stake in this port deal.

It could simply be that their Arab egos have been bruised.

Or, they could have had some grand plan thwarted.

I have expected that eventually the Arab world would lock together in step and attempt to hit the West economically. This is the first evidence of that.

Simply put, I have my doubts that this is all about something to UAE wants. Instead, I think it is likely they are upset because they will not be able to fulfill obligations to other Arab nations.

What do you think?