Monday, May 30, 2011

Egypt Opens Rafah Crossing To Hamas, Begins Steps to Cut Off Gas Shipments To Israel

Over the weekend, the Egyptian junta formally reopened the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Hamas ruled Gaza Strip. This was done without coordinating anything with Israel, a violation of the 2005 Egyptian-Israeli accords on the Gaza crossings which call for them to be manned by European monitors and supervised by Israel.

Those accords were part of the security assurances Israel was given when Israel agreed to retreat from Gaza and were signed on to by both the US and the EU.

In response to Israeli concerns, Egyptian Chief of Staff General Sami Anan warned Israel not to interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs.

Anan wrote on his Facebook page that “Israel has no right to interfere in the issue of the opening of the Rafah crossing. This is an Egyptian-Palestinian matter.”

Another sign that Egypt plans to abrogate the Israel-Egyptian Camp David Accords was decision by Egypt's Oil Minister Abdallah Ghorab to liquidate EMG (the East Mediterranean Gas Company), jointly owned by the Israeli company Merhav (25%), PTT (25%), EMI-EGI LP (12%), and Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (10%).EMG is under contract to deliver Egyptian gas to Israel and supplied 40 percent of its needs in 2010. As part of the treaty, Egypt had agreed to supply natural gas to Israel at slightly below market prices, and a the contract was just renewed in 2009. Deliveries were made via a pipeline that was jointly built by Israel and Egypt from El Arish in Sinai to the Israeli port of Ashkelon.

On May 28th the Egyptians informed Israel that deliveries were not going to resume. The ostensible reason is that ex-President Mubarak and his sons are now in jail on corruption charges involving a rake off they allegedly took from the gas sales and the Egyptians are saying that the contract is therefore void, but the real reason in the Egyptian junta's desire to appeal politically to the Egyptian street, a major portion of which wants all relations broken off with Israel...especially the Muslim Brotherhood contingent.

Mubarak was fined the equivalent of $33 million by the Egyptian courts simply for cutting off internet and telecom access for a day or so during the revolt, and the eighty-year-old dictator is also scheduled to be tried for 'the murder of unarmed protesters' as well. He'll probably end up being executed after all his wealth that can be found is expropriated.

It's interesting to contrast the fate of Hosni Mubarak, who wasn't willing to use his military against his own people with that of Syria's Basher Assad, who was.

Of course, having the president of the United States actively work on your removal likely has something to do with it.

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B.Poster said...

This is potentially devestating to Israel. 40% of your natural gas is a HUGE percentage. Can Israel make up for this from other sources? Can it be done at a reasonable price?

This move by the Egyptians comes after Israel invested HUGE sums of money into the Egyptian natural gas industry and was a part owner in the project. Essentially the Egyptians propose to steal from the Israelis. Might something simillar happened back in the early 50s when the Iranian government was removed. Did they try to steal the British and perhaps American investment in the Iranian oil industry. Might this have led to the decision to effect government change back then? Might such a decison by the Egyptians invite a similar response by the Israelis today? I think this comes down to whether or not Israel can get its suppplies elsewhere at a reasonable price? If not Israel may be forced to intervene in the affairs of Egypt to keep this precious resource avaiable to the Israeli people. Nation states and people will not be successful if others are allowed to essentially rob them. If Egypt is allowed to get away with this, it could set a dangerous precedent. Will Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Canada, or Venezuela decide to cut off oil supplies to the US? If they do, they could cite the Israeli/Egyptian situation as prcedent?

In the near term can Israel make up for this short fall at a reasonable price?

B.Poster said...

"Its interesting to contrast the fate of Hosni Mubarak who wasn't willing to use his military against his own people with that of Syria's Bashar Assad who was."

Actually Mr. Mubarak was more than "willing" to use his military against his own people. The problem was the military was not willing to fire on the Egyptian people in order to support him. They joined the "rebellion."

A better contrast might be to compare and contrast what happens to leaders who lose the support of the military and the intellegence services of the country they rule with those who maintain the support of those people. Mr. Assad maintained the support of these groups. Mr. Mubarak lost that support and now he is gone.