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Thread: Israel manufactures a new existential threat

  1. #1
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    Israel manufactures a new existential threat

    An old familiar one, actually, but rejuvenated and modernised.

    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=107720

    CAIRO, May 9, 2012 (IPS) - The two weeks since Egypt's abrupt cancellation of a Mubarak-era gas-export deal with Israel have seen an exchange of indirect threats and warnings between the two countries, culminating in an apparent Israeli military build-up on the border of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
    In a nutshell, Israel has apparently failed to make timely payments for Egypt's natural gas and, per the contract, Egypt has stopped shipping it to Israel. Israel has responded by making threats and general bullying.

    Since Egypt's natural gas was supplying 40% of Israel's energy, Israel now has a real reason to be paranoid, and Egypt's evil refusal to sell their precious natural resources to foreign countries will now replace Iran's fantasy nuclear bomb threat in the headlines.*



    * unless Egypt caves in and starts selling/giving natural gas to Israel again.

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    New Romantic Miramon's Avatar
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    It's like the people in these countries have gotten game theory backwards. The idea is to go for a higher score, not a lower one.

    Egypt is in terrible economic shape, so naturally it's a brilliant idea to stop selling gas to the one neighbor they have that isn't drowning in excess production, and Israel has serious energy problems, so of course they want to mess up relations with one of the few suppliers they have.

    I guess Israel's next step is to tell American Jews they're no longer welcome to visit unless they convert to orthodox, and Egypt's will be to destroy the pyramids and the sphinx because they represent the worship of idols.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miramon View Post
    I guess Israel's next step is to tell American Jews they're no longer welcome to visit unless they convert to orthodox,

    You say that like the religious right in Israel isn't trying to do very similar things. :)

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    I'm not ruling out the possibility that someone somehow forgot to pay for the gas, but the overall context was that this was a hugely unpopular gas deal attacked in Egypt as a sweetheart arrangement selling gas cheap to Israel - the pipeline's been blown up more than a dozen times since the Egyptian uprising, the now-ruling Muslim Brotherhood was against the deal, etc.

    To quote the late-April AP story,

    Ibrahim Yousri, a former Egyptian diplomat who had brought the issue to court, welcomed the decision announced Sunday.

    “It has become a scandal bigger than the (ruling) military council can withstand,” Yousri said. He said there are gas shortages in Egypt, and growing economic woes, further enflaming popular unrest. He called the business deal a “treason” to national interests, adding, “This is a great political step.”
    And Egypt's apparently offering to sell gas, at a "new" price, I'm guessing higher than that in the 20-year contract they say Israel broke. Cui bono? Of course, if the deal was a rip-off for Egypt signed by a now-deposed dictatorship, their abrogating it isn't the most controversial thing in the history of post-revolutionary commerce.

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    New Romantic Miramon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AaronSofaer View Post
    You say that like the religious right in Israel isn't trying to do very similar things. :)
    Sad but true. They're not quite in charge yet, though.

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    Miramon - And with PR, they won't be in charge. In fact, UTJ is almost certainly going to leave Netenyahu's new coalition (essentially a sign of weakness in itself), and Shas's position is hardly comfortable either. Neither are now needed.

    Jason - That doesn't mean it's not going to inflame tensions, though. The concept it's a "manufactured" crisis is nonsense. It's a breach of an addendum to the Camp David accords (the Isralie-Egyptian peace deal), so can't be seen as anything but serious. It happened over 2 weeks ago, actually.

    The "40%" figure is the peak incidentally - Israel's made a major and successful effort to diversify supply away from reliance on it.

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    New Romantic Miramon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starlight View Post
    Miramon - And with PR, they won't be in charge. In fact, UTJ is almost certainly going to leave Netenyahu's new coalition (essentially a sign of weakness in itself), and Shas's position is hardly comfortable either. Neither are now needed.
    Not needed at the moment, perhaps, but the religious parties have a history of being needed to form majorities, so I doubt anyone will alienate them.

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    I didn't say it wasn't serious, just that the toppling of a dictatorship potentially bears on the invisible rebus sic stantibus clause of every undertaking a country has made, tied to solemn peace agreements or otherwise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arctangent View Post
    An old familiar one, actually, but rejuvenated and modernised.

    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=107720



    In a nutshell, Israel has apparently failed to make timely payments for Egypt's natural gas and, per the contract, Egypt has stopped shipping it to Israel. Israel has responded by making threats and general bullying.

    Since Egypt's natural gas was supplying 40% of Israel's energy, Israel now has a real reason to be paranoid, and Egypt's evil refusal to sell their precious natural resources to foreign countries will now replace Iran's fantasy nuclear bomb threat in the headlines.*



    * unless Egypt caves in and starts selling/giving natural gas to Israel again.
    You're reading bad news sources.
    There was very little war mongering over this. In fact, here is Lieberman's response to this:
    “To make this into a political dispute would be a mistake,”
    The end of this agreement was expected, the supply hasn't been regular for over a year. (Turned off for months at a time due to attacks on the pipe)
    Together with the claims of Egyptian parties that this agreement was corrupted and the price was too low it was expected to happen. It shouldn't be bother Israel that much, since Israel has natural gas reserves which should be actively mined in a year or two.
    As for all the military movements, they are not due to a dispute between the countries but due to the increasing terror attacks and less of control of Egypt in Sinai. Since military forces were not allowed in Sinai due to the peace treaty, the area has fostered a lot of terrorists, and things have worsen since the revolution. The forces are being put there for those reasons.
    (In addition, I assume both armies, are as always preparing plans for a war, as does every functioning military in the world)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Townsend View Post
    I didn't say it wasn't serious, just that the toppling of a dictatorship potentially bears on the invisible rebus sic stantibus clause of every undertaking a country has made, tied to solemn peace agreements or otherwise.
    You mean like Iran's obligations to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty - signed by the Shah before he was overthrown?

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    As I understand it post-'79 Iran has considered itself to be party to and in compliance with the NPT.

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    No wonder. Can you imagine the war cry that would go up if they ditched it?

    Israel can have nuclear weapons because it never signed the NPT, but Iran signed it (under a previous dictator) and therefore must comply!

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    Well, going off the NPT would never have led to a round of applause under any circumstances, but had Iran indicated in '79 that they didn't consider the Shah's signature on it (or whatever else) binding I don't think the world would've been stunned. That was the point at which the Shah's diplomatic undertakings were either adopted by the new government or not, not 30-odd years later.

    This also seem a bit tangential. "Egypt's actions vis a vis the pipeline aren't really outside the parameters of post-revolution ups and downs." "Yeah, and there's an Israeli-Iranian nuclear double standard!" Uh, maybe? Kind of an different argument.

  14. #14
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    You seem happy to give the Egyptians a year to reconsider their deals with Israel. A year after Iran's revolution, which was considerably more bloody and chaotic than Egypt's, they were plunged into a desperate ten year war with Iraq, complete with chemical attacks, trench warfare and genocides. I doubt a review of their international obligations was top of their priority list.

    And if you are unhappy that this is a bit tangential, there's no need to respond :). Personally I like conversations that go all over the place. That's what happens in real life. I've only ever heard people complain on the internet about conversations that go "off topic". I think you'd get weird looks saying that if you were chatting in a bar.

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    I'm not unhappy, it's just a conversational non sequitur to go from "What Egypt did wasn't that far outside the norms of diplomacy under these circumstances" to rhetorically lamenting the double nuclear standard.

    The "hey let's talk about Israel instead" thing is sort of separate from the "dubious analogy about rebus stantibus and a treaty Iran may never have wanted out of." I'm pretty sure if we were in a bar and the conversation came within 100 miles of the holy land I'd start frantically talking about sports.

  16. #16
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    Conversational non-sequitur? Just five minutes ago I was involved in a (real world) conversation that started on the subject of sentence structure, and ended on the subject of air pilot salaries - all within the space of about five minutes. The only "conversational non-sequitur" I could imagine in real life, is someone interrupting me to say "please keep to the original topic".

    It's not like I made a wild jump. You suggested the Egyptians had a right to revise treaties signed by previous, illegitimate governments, and I wondered if you agreed that extended to other governments in similar situations. You disagreed so the discussion digressed. That's pretty "on topic" for most conversations I am involved in or overhear in the real world.

    But now we really are going "off topic", but you started that by attempting to thread cop me :).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Partlett
    You suggested the Egyptians had a right to revise treaties signed by previous, illegitimate governments, and I wondered if you agreed that extended to other governments in similar situations. You disagreed so the discussion digressed.
    You wondered in the form of a pointed rhetorical question that effectively had already begun deploring the Iranian-Israeli nuclear perception gap. And I didn't disagree; Iran pretty evidently could have used a similar argument if they'd wished to cancel treaties signed by the Shah, the NPT among them; I just noted that they hadn't. (Nor is it particularly relevant to cite the tumultuous circumstances; there's no reason to even suppose they cared to exit the treaty, given Khomeini's views.)

    All I can say is I was interested in talking about Egyptian-Israeli gas contracts and not the iniquities of the mideast nuclear double standard and subjectively that was a non sequitur to me. I guess "existential threat" was in the thread title, but imo that's down to the iffy news item.

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    Iran could chose to back out of the NPT anyway, it's always been an option for the signatories.
    The issue is that they claim compliance and their program is dubiously dual-use anyway.

    Honestly, I do wonder if this is an Egyptian military move to remind the new government of their importance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starlight View Post
    Honestly, I do wonder if this is an Egyptian military move to remind the new government of their importance.
    Wait, stir up controversy a few weeks before an election? Unthinkable!

    Somehow "May Surprise" doesn't roll off the tongue like "October Surprise," but perhaps that's just because it's not as familiar!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starlight View Post
    Iran could chose to back out of the NPT anyway, it's always been an option for the signatories.
    The issue is that they claim compliance and their program is dubiously dual-use anyway.
    Iran wants the world to believe they aren't developing nuclear weapons so they don't get attacked. If they pulled out of the NPT they would basically be waving a red flag saying "we really are developing nuclear weapons attack us if you dare". There's no benefit to pulling out of the NPT, but there's plenty of cost.

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