The proposed sale of six U.S. ports to Dubai Ports World, an arm of the United Arab Emerates (UAE) government, has created a storm of controversy.
My initial reaction to the announcement was great alarm and I remain very concerned today, despite my efforts to listen to both sides and understand the proposal.
Initially I was thinking Saudi Arabia instead of UAE, but realizing my mistake didn’t change my feelings. Since 9/11, I have a great distrust of everything and everybody from that part of the world. Racist? Islamophobic? Profiling? Call it what you will. On some level I can’t help it. Attacks on the United States, at home and abroad, have come and continue to come from the Middle East.
Intellectually I understand that the UAE is currently a U.S. ally. I can look at a map and see how strategically located it is… for both the good guys and the bad guys.
I heard one commentator explain how the port deal would give the UAE control of only a few terminals within each of the ports mentioned, with numbers like 3 terminals out of of 15, or thereabouts. That might be acceptable, if it is accurate, but I don’t know if it is or not. Most of the networks continue to report the story as a sale of the ports. No mention of terminals within the ports.
Supporters of the sale explain that the UAE would only “manage” the ports, while the U.S. will continue to be in charge of customs, security, etc. I’ve yet to understand how one can manage a port without having anything to say about customs and security operations.
I’m just an average citizen. I’m trying to understand. I really am. But when so many Republicans join the Democrats in opposing the sale, I am in no way reassured that this deal is good for America.