This article has a mistake: Lautenberg is a Democrat,
not a Republican.
Arab ally senses Bush no longer has control
By Edward Alden and Holly Yeager in Washington
Published: March 9 2006 22:00 | Last updated: March 9
The decision by the United Arab Emirates on Thursday
to order state-controlled Dubai Ports World to end its
control over US port facilities marks the lowest point
yet in the relationship between President George W.
Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress.
Mr Bush had warned repeatedly that blocking the deal
would send a dangerously discriminatory message to the
world. He threatened repeatedly to veto any
But with his public approval ratings at record lows
and his Republican party abandoning him, one of the
USs closest allies in the Arab world concluded that
he was no longer in control in Washington.
The decision by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-
Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, is likely to avert the
political backlash that hit Washington last month and
may prevent any further damage to diplomatic and
security relations between the countries. But it
underscored that Mr Bush, who still has nearly three
years to go in his second term, has become perilously
Dennis Hastert, the Republican speaker of the House
and one of Mr Bushs most loyal backers in Congress,
emerged from a White House meeting on Thursday morning
and signalled that he could not hold back the
opposition to the deal. We want to protect the
American people and we will continue to do that, he
Theres a Republican initiative right now that says,
Get us the hell out of here, said Frank Lautenberg,
a Republican senator from the port state of New
The acquisition of five US port terminals by an Arab
company became an unlikely target for an outpouring of
American anger and fear. While administration
officials and port security experts insisted there
were no security concerns raised by the transfer of
port facilities from a British company to a Dubai
company, members of Congress said they were flooded
with calls and letters from ordinary Americans angered
by the deal.
The White House promise to reopen a national security
investigation into the deal, together with a concerted
public relations effort by DP World, seemed only to
deepen the anger.
More than four years after the September 11 attacks,
it brought together a toxic combination of anxieties
over Americas place in the world. Traditional
protectionists, worried by foreign acquisitions of US
assets and the outsourcing of jobs to distant and
little-understood countries, lined up alongside
security hawks who warned that even a close Arab ally
such as the UAE was vulnerable to terrorist infiltration.