In the past three weeks, there has been a political firestorm caused by misreported facts about the purchase of P&O by Dubai Port Works, and scurrilous attacks on the UAE by pundits, which has led to the betrayal of America's most loyal and useful an ally in the Persian Gulf. The fallout from this betrayal will make it difficult to recruit future allies in the war on terror. The attacks on the UAE have the potential to do what Osama bin Laden has not been able to do with over a decade of bombings, the hijacked airliners, and fatwas.
Just take a look at the UAE's track record. As part of the coalition to liberate Kuwait in 1991, the UAE has also supported the United States in the war on terror. This includes, among other things, providing access to a deep-water port that can accommodate aircraft carriers, use of a training facility for air-to-air combat training, airfields, and logistics support. It is a country that has proven largely inhospitable to al Qaeda (instead, the focus is on business), the UAE sent forces to Afghanistan to protect the construction of a hospital that they donated and built. They also has sent humanitarian assistance to Iraq while also providing a location for training Iraqi police. In 2002, the UAE also captured a major al-Qaeda figure, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who was involved in the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, and handed him over to the United States despite threats from the terrorist organization. Both Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and General Peter Pace have described the relationship the United States has with the United Arab Emirates as "very close" and "superb". General Tommy Franks gave the UAE credit for providing valuable intelligence prior to the liberation of Afghanistan, and his successor, General John Abizaid, also described the UAE's contributions as vital. The reward the UAE got for its support of the United States was to be smeared by pundits like Michelle Malkin as "demonstrably unreliable" or worse. The UAE is not perfect, but it is highly doubtful that the critics of the port deal could find one country that hasn't made mistakes - or pursued a policy it has come to regret - in the past.
Contrary to the claim Malkin made in her blog that the extent of UAE retaliation would be a pullback from potential airline deals with Boeing, the UAE's retaliatory options could also include a reduction in cooperation in a number of strategic areas. It needs to be noted that outside of Dubai, the closest facility that can conduct major repairs on an aircraft carrier is Guam. The United Arab Emirates has also been sharing intelligence with the United States - and is better equipped in the area of human intelligence against terrorism from Islamic extremists (due to being in the same neighborhood that many major al-Qaeda figures come from) than the United States.
It is also worth noting what happened the last time the United States screwed over an ally in the Persian Gulf. In 1979, the United States made a series of decisions that led to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi being losing power in Iran. The result of that decision included the takeover of the American embassy in Iran, along with 25 years of state-sponsored terrorism, and a grave threat to the stability of the Middle East.
There is a cost to the United States for abandoning or abusing allies. When people assist the United States of America, and take risks doing so, they are owed some loyalty. To dump on an ally, like the UAE, instead of showing some respect, other potential allies take note.
This was a controversy with two winners; al Qaeda and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The United Arab Emirates is a critical ally of the United States in the Persian Gulf, and a decline in what has been a strong relationship over thirty-four years is good news for the theocratic regime in its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and Islamic terrorists everywhere. - Harold C. Hutchison (firstname.lastname@example.org)