Wednesday, February 22, 2006

ports through a barrel

Why on Earth would the Bush administration be willing to publicly defend turning over even partial control of some U.S. seaport operations to a company based in a country with known ties to the September 11, 2001 attackers? Knowing as we do that oil is about to peak in global production and become the most sought-after commodity on this planet I thought I’d follow the oil trail and find the answer.

First some facts about the UAE:

"The UAE was one of three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

The UAE has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Lybia.

According to the FBI, money was transferred to the 9/11 hijackers through the UAE banking system.

After 9/11, the Treasury Department reported that the UAE was not cooperating in efforts to track down Osama Bin Laden’s bank accounts."
(Read more about the above in this article)

In the past the following is the sort of rhetoric that has been coming out of Washington D.C. My emphasis added.

"President Bush on Thursday urged the U.S. Congress to authorize military action against Iraq, warning the United Nations Washington was prepared to go it alone, as Saddam Hussein accused Bush of lying to gain control of Middle East oil." Reuters - September 19, 2002

On Tuesday however,

"Bush held a rare news conference on Air Force One to say the [Port] deal should go forward despite lawmakers' concerns and insisted he would veto legislation aimed at stopping it. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, 'You have to take into account the broader foreign policy implications,' he said. 'We should be working to broaden our partnership in the broader war on terrorism.'" Reuters – February 22, 2006

Are we to believe that this administration has finally come to understand the need for cooperation concerning the difficult issues of the day? Hardly. The following was written by The American Thinker and explains the geopolitical importance of the United Arab Emirates in providing the United States and the world with oil. As the price of a barrel has risen so has the status of the UAE. I have added a few images.

"In March of 1992, Iran started a long-term effort to effectively shut down the Straits of Hormuz, if it so desired, by seizing the island of Abu Musa."

"Abu Musa island is located in the Persian Gulf about halfway between Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is only a few miles square, but has significant oil reserves, which make the island an important possession, which would boost the economies of either Iran or the UAE. But the critical factor for the US and other oil importing countries is that Abu Musa is located in a position at the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf allowing whoever occupied it to threaten the Gulf’s valuable oil shipping lane or, given the weaponry currently deployed there, to entirely close off the Gulf to all shipping. Shipping through the Straits of Hormuz must negotiate an “S” turn which is only 35 miles wide at the Strait’s narrowest point. This puts shipping well within range of the Iranian weapons systems currently deployed on Abu Musa, which sits roughly at the midpoint in the channel."

"Both the UAE and Iran have had longstanding claims to Abu Musa and the nearby Tumb Islands… The Iranian occupation of the island is not only disputed by the UAE, but also by the entire Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It may be feasible to line-up the much-coveted support of a large “international community” to demand re-occupation of Abu Masa by the UAE, and the evacuation of Iranian forces. This could be phrased in a way which promises united military action, by the GCC, the United States, and a coalition of the nations dependent on the free flow of oil through the Straits, if the mullahs balk beyond a certain deadline. Such a coalition could theoretically include Europe, Japan, China, South Korea, and many other nations."

I added some emphasis again. further bolsters the increasing international importance of this waterway with the following facts:

"The Persian Gulf region contains roughly 68% of the world's known oil and natural gas reserves. Nearly 25% of the world’s oil supply flows through the Strait of Hormuz on a daily basis. Over 75% of Japan's oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz. Oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz account for roughly two-fifths of all world traded oil. The Energy Information Administration projects that oil exports through the Strait of Hormuz will double from approximately 15 million barrels of oil in 2005 to 30-34 million barrels per day by 2020, suggesting that ensuring the free flow of oil through the Strait will continue to be an important mission."

Now the talk about “broad partnerships” and the UAE seaport operations deal both begin to make sense. I bet Japan would be willing to listen to a plan cosponsored by the United States and the United Arab Emirates to reinstate the rightful authority of the UAE over Abu Musa; especially since 75% of Japanese oil flows within a Silkworm Missile shot from that island. Maybe the already growing idea that Iran needs to be controlled by the international community because of its nuclear ambitions would be bolstered by the suggestion that Iran is illegally controlling the territory of another sovereign nation- namely the UAE. A coalition is starting to add up. Iran has threatened in the past to shut down the Strait of Hormuz. Such a threat to world oil supply can not be allowed, especially with less and less oil available for “all of us”.

But the U.S. would need the help of The United Arab Emirates to put together such a proposition. This support would not only be geographical in the form of a physical launching pad from which to initiate an attack but also political in the form of meaningful justification. If there’s one thing Americans are willing to fight for it’s an oppressed underdog. After all, the cries of “Help us regain our rightful authority!” must come from the UAE itself on this matter.

This means the U.S. can not afford to block the UAE’s attempt to gain a lucrative contract to control U.S. seaports. America needs the UAE if it’s interested in keeping the Strait of Hormuz open to the transport of oil in the event of an escalation in arms with Iran. Between the planned Iran oil bourse switch to sell oil in Euros (coming in March) and the malevolent ravings of the Iranian President that possibility is looking more and more likely.

It all makes sense when you look at it through the barrel.

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