Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Ports Deal Is Off

Earlier today, Dubai pulled out of the Ports Deal in order to "preserve the relationship" between the U.A.E. and the United States:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- United Arab Emirates-owned DP World said Thursday it would transfer its operations of American ports to a U.S. "entity" after congressional leaders reportedly told President Bush that the firm's takeover deal was essentially dead on Capitol Hill.

"Because of the strong relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the United States and to preserve that relationship ... DP World will transfer fully the U.S. operations of P&O Operations North America to a United States entity," Edward H. Bilkey, DP World's chief operating officer, said in a statement.

The announcement did not specify which U.S. company would be involved.

Here's what Sen. John Warner had to say about the announcement on the Senate floor:
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: ... that what I had to say might bear on your remarks. Mr. President, I have had the opportunity to work very closely with the White House and the administration, with our distinguished leader, Bill Frist, and others in the Senate, several of the senators, on this question. And I've had the opportunity to meet and work with representatives of the DP World company, who came to the United States for the purposes of really acknowledging to the world the importance of this contract and their perspective.

I shall not recount the events that have occurred here in the last few days, but i've just been contacted by Edward Bilkey, chief operating officer of DP World, and in an effort to get this message to all interested parties as quickly as possible, I indicated a willingness to read a press release that is now being issued by DP World and Edward Bilkey.

It reads as follows, "Because of the strong relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the United States, and to preserve that relationship, DP World has decided to transfer fully the U.S. operation of P&O Ports North America to a United States entity. This decision is based on an understanding that DP World will have time to effect the transfer in an orderly fashion, and that DP World will not suffer economic loss. We look forward to working with the Department of Treasury to implement this decision." End statement.

His highness Shaikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, prime minister of UAE, has advised the company that in the interest of the UAE, the nation, and the United States, that this action is the appropriate course to take in the future.

This move saves us the confrontation between the President and Congress and the potential of an embarrassing veto override by the latter. Bush has sufficiently saved face, and I suspect that --as we saw with the Miers nomination-- in a few weeks the Dubai Ports Deal will be ancient history.

I tend to agree with Rick Moran, who is dead on in his analysis:
I would still like to see hearings on other foreign owned companies who manage our ports and other transportation nexus. These are a particularly vulnerable part of our overall security profile and what this deal proved is that no one appears to be thinking very hard about them.

I sincerely hope that the UAE isn’t offended by the pressure that was put on them, although, when a country is owned by one man, it becomes very hard to separate the business from the personal. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum may feel that he’s been double crossed but he shouldn’t blame the Congress or the American people. The blame is ultimately the Presidents’ to shoulder as are our other problems with border control and gaps in security at our airports.

If the killing of this deal has opened the eyes of the President and his people to the concerns of Congress and many conservatives, then it just may have a silver lining. They can go a long way toward proving that they’re listening by working with Congress on an immigration reform package that puts security over commerce and the safety of the American people over the wallets of the members of the Chambers of Commerce.