Sunday, February 12, 2006

United Arab Emirates Firm To Control Major U.S. Ports

While many Hoosiers have expressed concern over the prospect of turning control of the Indiana Toll Road over to an Australian-based firm, the U.S. government has given its approval to the sale of a London-based company, which overseas most of the country's major ports, to a firm based in the United Arab Emirates. From today's Washington Post:

A company in the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over significant operations at six American ports as part of a corporate sale, leaving a country with ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers with influence over a maritime industry considered vulnerable to terrorism.

The Bush administration considers the UAE an important ally in the fight against terrorism since the suicide hijackings and is not objecting to Dubai Ports World's purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

The $6.8 billion sale could be approved Monday and would affect commercial port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

According to the Post report, a panel of U.S. representatives from the departments of Treasury, Defense, Justice, Commerce, State and Homeland Security concluded that the purchase by the Arab country represented no threat to national security. In fact, the government considers UAE a major partner in the war on terrorism despite its role in the 9/11 attacks. The Post reported:

The State Department describes the UAE as a vital partner in the fight against terrorism. But the UAE, a loose federation of seven emirates on the Saudi peninsula, was an important operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the FBI concluded.

In an un-related story, news comes that the UAE has just jailed 26 men for being gay, sentencing them to 5 years in prison. WebIndia reports:

Their arrest had made news in November last year when they gathered at a hotel in Ghantout, a desert region on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway to organise a gay wedding. Police got wind of the meeting and swooped on the hotel and arrested the participants.

The Khaleej Times said the gays defended themselves in the court saying they were proud of their act and were keen to practice it.

An earlier report said the gays may be given hormone treatment to correct their behaviour as sodomy is punishable by death under the Islamic sharia law.

Homosexuality is said to be common in this part of the world where men and women lead a highly segregated life.

So we're suppose to entrust control of our nation's most important ports to a nation which doesn't afford any individual rights to its own people--where you can be jailed for practicing Christianity or any other non-Muslim religion and where you can be executed for homosexual relationships? Will you feel more secure knowing that major ports of entry to the U.S. will be under UAE control?

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