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Arab ally senses Bush no longer has control

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  • Greg Cannon
    This article has a mistake: Lautenberg is a Democrat, not a Republican. http://news.ft.com/cms/s/aaf675ba-afb6-11da-b417-0000779e2340.html Arab ally senses
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 10, 2006
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      This article has a mistake: Lautenberg is a Democrat,
      not a Republican.

      http://news.ft.com/cms/s/aaf675ba-afb6-11da-b417-0000779e2340.html

      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
      2006 22:00

      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
      congressional legislation.

      But with his public approval ratings at record lows
      and his Republican party abandoning him, one of the
      US’s 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
      weak.

      Dennis Hastert, the Republican speaker of the House
      and one of Mr Bush’s 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
      said.

      “There’s 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
      Jersey.

      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 America’s 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.
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