usually most interested in a newspaper's business section, e-mailed
his take on the Dubai Ports World issue and asked, "Is this
the international equivalent of driving while black, only shipping
ongoing debate is a complex intersection of foreign investment,
homeland security and government secrecy issues, it is hard to
ignore the suggestion of racial profiling or the wider implications
for American policy in the Middle East.
80 percent of the ports in the United States are managed by foreign
companies. A stevedorer partially owned by the Chinese government
runs operations at Long Beach, Calif., the second- busiest port
in the U.S., with little fanfare or concern. Other companies from
Asia and Europe, some government-owned and many with huge Arab
and Muslim communities and known jihadist cells, do the same on
the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts.
Yet for the
past two weeks not just DP World but the entire United Arab Emirates
have been labeled by some as terrorist sponsors, Taliban apologists
and unreliable U.S. allies. This is just wrong, according to those
who deal with the Emirates on military, intelligence and national
security issues and know the country to be a solid partner in
the war on terrorism.
So much so
that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have turned their sights on
the UAE, threatening the country specifically for maintaining
a cooperative relationship with the U.S.
it all were inaccurate reports suggesting an Arab company "taking
over" or "buying" ports in the United States. As
part of a $6.8 billion acquisition of the London-based Peninsular
and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., DP World will inherit contracts
to manage cargo operations at ports in Brooklyn, Newark, New Orleans,
Miami, Philadelphia and Baltimore.
arrangements, union contracts, relationships with port authorities,
U.S. government- required security standards, U.S. Coast Guard
oversight and the people running day-to-day operations at these
ports will not change. Yes, two Sept. 11 hijackers were from the
UAE. But lesser known is that when the Emirates government learned
two of its own were part of the attack it committed troops to
fight alongside American soldiers in Afghanistan.
about motives, no suggesting Israeli Mossad or CIA conspiracies,
no avoiding responsibility. The UAE was the only Arab and Muslim
country to stand shoulder to shoulder with the U.S -- a display
all too rare in the Middle East.
The UAE is
now hugely helpful in tracking terrorist funds, and intelligence
officials confirm that Dubai serves as a waypoint from which the
U.S. can more easily identify and understand who and what al Qaeda
is deploying internationally.
Department of Homeland Security started the container security
initiative to make sure cargo was reliably screened for radiological
bombs, smuggled weapons or other terror threats, Dubai was the
first foreign port to sign on. The country is a high traffic port
of call for U.S. Navy ships, including aircraft carriers and submarines.
If we trust
UAE ports to host our nuclear-powered vessels and we trust their
cities with our sailors -- plus they enforce the highest cargo
security measures set by the U.S. -- we should be able to trust
them with basic port services like loading and unloading ships
In many ways,
the UAE has emerged as just the kind of country the U.S. seeks
to nurture in the Arab world -- religiously tolerant, economically
open, balancing modern social and business forces with traditional
Islamic values and lifestyles.
perhaps reflecting what one conservative writer called "the
dogs of anti-Arab prejudice" unleashed by a White House incessantly
beating the war-on-terror drums, may have forgotten that the UAE
is the closest to an ideal Arab partner the U.S. can rely on today
and about as pro-American as you can get in the Arab world. If
we cannot do business with the UAE, the U.S. has no real hope
for any success among Muslim nations.
relationship between the U.S. and the Arab world is sometimes
summed up as half the people wanting to bomb American embassies
and the other half wanting visas from them. Yet instead of holding
up the UAE as a beacon of prosperity and diversity for more of
the Middle East to emulate, the U.S. risks humiliating an ally
and grouping tolerant Dubai with darker Islamic forces we hope
to isolate or enlighten.
When a solid,
reliable U.S. friend in the strategically important and politically
volatile Middle East can't get fair, trusting treatment in Washington,
there's no hope for winning the battle for the hearts, minds and
future of the Arab world that we are now waging.
Klein served in the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce and
is now director for the Middle East and Arabian Gulf at Kissinger
McLarty Associates in Washington.