For those keeping count, late last month was the sixth (1-2-3-4-5-6th!) time the Egyptian natural gas pipeline in the Sinai has been sabotaged. And what won’t be accomplished by vigilantes will be accomplished by democracy: in advance of elections which the ruling military leaders have already taken heat for dithering on, Egypt’s petroleum minister announced that he will soon draw up a new gas contract that would markedly raise the price of gas exported to Israel and Jordan. (You may recall that the prior deal was likely rigged to sell energy to Israel at sub-market prices and involved kickbacks to deposed President Mubarak’s sons.) Is this about rectifying how much Egypt is compensated for the sale of its natural resources? Or is it about the principle of helping out Israel in any way whatsoever? The November elections and their aftermath should provide more of an answer.
Meanwhile, the uncertainty surrounding Israel’s energy sources to the south put pressure on its energy sources to the west, the massive natural gas fields discovered in its maritime territory under the Mediterranean. As Robin M. Mills explained in an excellent article, the fields have the potential to turn Israel not merely self-sufficient but into a net energy exporter. The lack of a definite Egyptian source makes developing these fields all the more important, which in turn makes the (basically trumped-up) territorial dispute with Lebanon over the field—which has also drawn in Cyprus, which means it’s also drawn in Turkey … —that much more fraught. Much as Egypt’s leaders are less concerned about the gas itself and more with the appearance of doing relations with the Jewish state, Lebanon’s Hezbollah-controlled government is less concerned with how much of the milkshake it gets to drink and more with continuing the resistance to the Zionist regime. Once again in the region, deep and lasting material interests are overlooked as ideology reigns.
Blast Destroys Egypt Gas Pipeline to Israel, Jordan [JTA/Jewish Journal]
The Land of Gas and Honey [Foreign Policy]
Saving Egypt’s Elections [FP Middle East Channel]
Egypt to Markedly Raise Gas Prices in New Deal With Israel [Reuters/JPost]
In Egypt, Concessions by Military on Politics [NYT]
Earlier: For Israel, Gas to Come Less Naturally
Israel-Lebanon Sea Border Dispute Heats Up