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Egypt Blows Up Pipeline
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 28, 2011


The pipeline that delivers natural gas from Egypt to both Israel and Jordan has been blown up. Terrorists blew up the control station located just outside of the city El Arish.

When terrorists blow up a natural gas pipeline, heads should turn.
It is an act of destruction that has the ability to alter a region.

It is an act that should force regional countries - and the international community, to respond immediately and harshly. Inaction, passivity, sends out a message to the terrorists and spurs them on to commit other terrorist acts that could also endanger the already fragile power structure of the region.

The explosion was so effective that succeeded in not just damaging the line, but in putting it completely out of commission. Egyptian authorities are saying that it could take weeks before the fire is under control and the gas line can start flowing again. Pictures show flames as high as 65 feet tall.

This is not the first time the pipeline and this station has been the target of terrorists hoping to scuttle the Egyptian peace treaty with Israel. And it is not the second.

The first explosion took place of February 5th of this year. That attack was ineffective in terms of damage, but very effective in providing the terrorists with the information and know-how they now used to execute this third and very effective attack. Had it not been for the diligence of Egyptian authorities who thwarted the second attack, the pipeline would probably have been successfully blown up on March 27th.

Clearly, the Egyptian military know that this site is a target. The attack on the natural gas monitoring station took place at 3am, in the dark of night. The army should have had this location under very tight surveillance, this attack should never have happened - but it did. Finger wagging is permitted in cases of gross negligence.

Based on the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, Israel received 40% of its natural gas from this pipeline. A part of this treaty even provides for a special relationship between Egypt and Israel concerning the price of the natural gas. The relationship is special - but not cheap. Israel still pays twice as much for the gas delivered to them by Egypt than the Syrians pay for the same natural gas.

There is no coincidence between the timing of these attacks -attempted and successful - and the activity taking place in Egypt. There should be no doubt that it is the rhetoric of politicians in the new Egypt that has set the ground for this terrorist action. Days before the explosion Egypt arrested their former energy minister, Sameh Fahmy, along with five other former bureaucrats from the ministry.

They were arrested because according to the 1979 peace treaty Egypt was supposed to guarantee Israel a set amount of natural gas at a set price. Now, under the new regime, under the current prosecution, according to many newly influential Egyptians politicians vying for popular support, that deal is tantamount to treachery. Too much gas for too little.

Actually, the deal is the backbone of the Egyptian peace treaty with Israel. But Israel saw what was happening in Egypt and as tensions rose, the Israelis reduced their dependency on Egypt for natural gas. Now Israel gets only about 29% of its natural gas from Egypt - down 11% from the original 40%. These saber rattling pronouncements, prosecutions and arrests are fueling an already tense and volatile environment within Egypt. A full blown anti - Western, anti-Israel front is overtaking the country.

We are looking at one prominent example of the new Egypt. The army running Egypt has done very little to clamp down on terror, in fact, it is almost as if the military wing is helping stimulate anti-Israel attitudes and subsequent actions. When you couple acts of terror against symbols of oppressive outsiders and perceived cultural colonialists with aggressive political rhetoric you are creating a dangerous environment. When terrorists search out and destroy the symbols cum targets the masses who may have been sitting on the fence become emboldened.

The only reason for putting out the fires - literally, not at all figuratively, is the fact that Jordan relies heavily on the natural gas they receive from the now destroyed pipeline. The same pipeline that supplies Israel with 29% of its natural gas, supplies Jordan with 80% of its natural gas. Jordan cannot survive for long without the Egyptian pipeline.

Maybe when Jordan cries out for help the international community will come out and, at least symbolically, pay attention to the acts of international destruction being perpetrated in Egypt. Maybe.

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4 June 2017 12:13 PM in Columns

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