'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Egypt to Open Rafah Crossing into Gaza? 

From Haaretz:

Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces General Sami Anan warned Israel against interfering with Egypt's plan to open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on a permanent basis, saying it was not a matter of Israel's concern, Army Radio reported on Saturday.

Egypt announced this week that it intended to permanently open the border crossing with Gaza within the next few days.

Palestinians take part in a protest at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, April 27, 2011.

The announcement indicates a significant change in the policy on Gaza, which before Egypt's uprising, was operated in conjunction with Israel. The opening of Rafah will allow the flow of people and goods in and out of Gaza without Israeli permission or supervision, which has not been the case up until now.

Obviously, if this happens, it is a significant development. And, then there are the spontaneous actions of Egyptians to impair the delivery of Egyptian natural gas to Israel through the Sinai, as demonstrated by this explosion along the pipeline a few days ago. As explained by Yolande Knell of the BBC:

Egypt's agreement to supply gas to Israel, built on the 1979 peace accord, has long been controversial. A former energy minister and other officials face trial for allegedly agreeing below market prices. Recent protests outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo called for supplies to be cut.

Last week, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil el-Araby told the BBC that gas exports are going on. Now though, it appears saboteurs have had their way.

Opposition to the exports is also reportedly related to Bedouin resentment over poor treatment in the area traversed by the pipeline as well. One of the interesting things that has happened since the removal of Mubarak has been increased public criticism of Israel, even by those associated with the military leadership, as evidenced here. One gets the impression that the military is attempting to preserve its economic preeminence within Egypt by cosmetically aligning itself with public displeasure with Israel. But, if so, the announcement of the opening of the Rafah crossing is an indication that Egyptians are insistent upon more concrete action. Protests at the Israeli embassy in Cairo are becoming an ongoing feature of Egyptian political activity, after being consistently suppressed by Mubarak, violently, if necessary.

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