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February 23, 2006

Comments

Nur al-Cubicle

Caught a few moments of CNN yesterday. I must say, the outrageously xenophobic and racist rhetoric by all their correspondents and hosts against Arabs sounded like the most hair-raising mouthfoaming I've ever outside of certain Israeli figures. The crew sounded like a lynch mob! Shouldn't Ms. Hughes be up front and diplomatically public in putting the firehose on the yahoos?

Apart the amusement of Bush's base snapping at his pantlegs, the most surprising elements for me is that the acquirer is a state-owned company. With all his talk about neoliberal revolution, shrinking the state and global privatisation, why in the world is he handing US port management to a state-owned enterprise?

Brian Whitaker

I wonder if the obsession with national sovereignty in Arab countries could explain why people in the Middle East are not particularly steamed-up about this. The idea of letting an American company manage Egyptian ports (for example) would surely provoke similar objections in Egypt, if not a bigger ones.

collounsbury

Re The Washington Post commentary, the fellow in question is a decent reporter, but very thin on his MENA knowledge. I have run into him professionally and corrected him on items. Good sport.

Re the particular coverage, obviously this is more a local issue (Khalije) so should have more of an echo.

Re issue of Nat. Sover. I would not over-generalise on this issue. DPW is lined up to manage the Tanger Med development as memory serves, and already French firms are quite present in utilities management throughout Morocco and somewhat less in Tunisia. Certainly this kind of reaction is, well, very human.

Finally re Nour's economic illitracy:
Apart the amusement of Bush's base snapping at his pantlegs, the most surprising elements for me is that the acquirer is a state-owned company. With all his talk about neoliberal revolution, shrinking the state and global privatisation, why in the world is he handing US port management to a state-owned enterprise?
I have failed to notice any talk of a "neo-liberal" revolution (of course neo-Liberal is hard Left jargon for merely liberal economics, but I have seen no sign of talk of a revolution except in 2003 in re Iraq. Idle twaddle that was.).

The Bush Administration is not "handing" the ports to anyone, It has given a standard review to a proposed private-private transaction. That is that.

Insofar as DPW, despite its capitalisation being from Dubai state coffers, it is run as a private-profit making concern. Probably not making back its cost of capital, but that's the capital holders call, internal efficiency is the firm problem.

hk

One should note that the objects of transactions are leases to manage various port facilities, terminals etc., not the ports (or, even the management of the entire ports) themselves. For example, the deal involving the Port of Newark, concerns a 30 year lease for handling container operations signed by the firm being acquired, P&O, with the NY/NJ Port Authority, the political authority owning/in "actual" charge of the port. The amount of dis/mis-information being peddled by the opponents is just breathtaking.

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