Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beirut Journal Day #35: Walls


The US Army Corps of Engineers has designed a special, "impenetrable" wall for Egypt to install along the border with Gaza. I know we all remember the bang-up job the Corps did in New Orleans. Apparently, some of the same technology used to shield New Orleans from hurricanes was used in this design. The wall will be about 10km long, and will reach about 18m into the earth. The effect, of course, is to further cut the Palestinians in Gaza off from the rest of the world.

One wonders, naturally, why Egypt, an Arab-nationalist republic, punishes its Arab neighbors from Palestine, so harshly. A quick paragraph from the US State Department helps us understand:
The U.S. has a large [$1.3bn p/yr] assistance program in Egypt and provides funding for a variety of programs in addition to some cash transfers....To support the Middle East peace process through regional economic integration, the United States permits products to be imported from Egypt without tariffs if they have been produced in Qualified Industrial Zones and 11.7% of the inputs of these products originate from Israel.

Wait...nearly 12% of Egyptian imports to the US come from Israel!? How cynical is that? The US, Egypt and Israel have a tidy economic reltationship. Israel funnels goods (likely produce that's grown in the Occupied Jordan River Valley) through Egypt, under the guise of "regional economic integration," while at the same time enforces a total blockade of goods and services to Palestinians. A blockade that it, under international law, an act of war. And, let's not forget that the justification for the blockade is the election (carried out under seige) of Hamas to a majority in a non-functioning Palestinian "government."

It must be noted that Hosni Mubarak has, until 2005, secured his position by having himself nominated by parliament, then confirmed without opposition in a referendum. He's only been opposed once in 28 years, and the one candidate to oppose him (Dr. Ayman Nour) has since
been sentenced to five years hard labor, essentially for contesting the process. Mubarak is the longest serving Egyptian ruler since Muhammad Ali Pasha, who died in 1849.


But, as Baalbek shows, walls can only stand for so long.

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