Egyptian Wikileaks: The Gaza Wall

A bunch of as-yet-unreleased Wikileaks cables have been shared with al-Masri al-Youm and other Egyptian newspapers, which will start releasing them today and over the rest of the week. 

For English coverage check out al-Masri al-Youm's site, which already has stories about how the Gaza-Egypt wall is due to be completed this month:

“The MOD had frequently discussed this project with us since the beginning of the year, but only recently received the corrugated steel sheets,” reads the document. “It is unknown, however, if the wall will be effective at deterring smuggling in the long-run, as the steel sheets are basic construction-grade material that can be cut using a tool like a blow torch.”

The document references international, regional and local press reports that criticize the wall for representing Egyptian support for Israeli security, describing them as “erroneously stating the wall is a US-funded project.”

The document also reveals the US has provided technical support for the installation of the tunnel detection system, which was due to be finished by the US Army Corps of Engineers and handed over to the Egyptian military in April 2010..

I've long believed the wall financing issue was set up to create US deniability that it was financing the wall. The cable says it cost $40m — not much compared to the $1bn and more of US military aid — and its most expensive technological component, the detection system, was US provided. So yes, it is US-backed and financed.

In another cable, US diplomats get warnings from Sinai Bedouins that the wall will radicalize the peninsula. More to come...

 

Moufid Shehab and Egypt's Gaza Hysteria

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The Egypt-Gaza border, by Flickr user Piersonr Inanities, the blog of journalist Sarah Carr, has a very funny translation/commentary on Egyptian Minister of Parliamentary Affairs (and Gamal's homme a tout faire) Moufid Shebab, who was the public face of the brouhaha over the Gaza convoys. There's the usual -- the "Qatari channel of discord," the "engineering installations on our eastern borders" to refer to the wall, lamenting that Egyptian media is not patriotic enough, etc. My favorite bit, though, was about the Algerian conspiracy to make Egypt look bad:
The media lacked information and the truth as it talked about the French people [THERE WERE ANOTHER 41 NATIONALITIES REPRESENTED IN THE GAZA FREEDOM MARCH BUT I WILL CONVENIENTLY IGNORE THIS] who came to Egypt ostensibly for tourism but who in fact had other motives - going to Gaza [SHOCK HORROR. IS THERE A SPECIFIC VISA FOR ‘GOING TO GAZA’?]. There has been a plan to deceive, and all the media fell for it. Most of these French people were Algerian women carrying French nationality [THIS IS COMPLETE TWADDLE BUT INDULGE ME] who took advantage of the protests for Gaza [TWADDLE DUM TWADDLE DEE]. These Algerian women are carrying the message of the Algerian media from the heart of Cairo [T WORD, AGAIN]. They appealed to human emotion but there was a political aim behind their actions. We all remember what happening in Khartoum and the consequences after the match on November 18 [A LOVELY DISTRACTION FROM HOW CRAP THE GOVERNMENT IS] In this way Algerian women came to Egypt with French passports and in their hearts they have taken a position against Egypt [EL TWADDALO, AGAIN. IF IT WAS TRUE, IT WOULD AGAIN BE A REMINDER THAT EGYPTIANS AND ALGERIANS REALLY DO HAVE MUCH IN COMMON].
Note that this diatribe also contains what's now the standard justification for the wall:
1. Hamas’ coup is the reason for the closure of the crossings, including the Rafah Crossing. 2. Egypt is committed to not opening the border formally because of the absence of a legitimate authority and, in compliance with the 2005 treaty, in order to protect Palestinian unity and avoid giving Israel the pretext to shirk its obligations in the Strip in its capacity as an occupying power. 3. To stop Israeli ambitions and plans to divide Gaza from the rest of Palestine; Gaza – the West Bank – East Jerusalem. 4. The Rafah Crossing is for people and not goods. 5. Egypt is applying pressure for the other crossings into Gaza controlled by Israel to remain open. Egypt has nothing to do with these crossings and they are: Karem Abu Salem, Erez, Kesoufeem [sp.?], Sufa, Karni and Nahal Oz. 6. The flow of aid through the crossing has not halted and Egypt has facilitated in all ways possible the passage of aid caravans in conformity with the rules set by Egypt. 7. Every country in the world protects its sovereignty and ensures the security of its land in cooperation with its neighbours. No state accepts the infringement of its laws, and it punishes those who do infringe them. 8. The attack on Egypt is organised. Israel was not subject to a similar attack by Arab satellite channels and some politicians and opposition figures when it built its racist wall [AT LEAST NOT HERE IN LA LA LAND]. This places all of these people in the same basket with regional powers who have adopted the inflammatory message against Egypt [DOCTOR THE MONSTERS ARE COMING]. These Egyptian measures are aimed at protecting our interests and our citizens against danger. They are necessarily and most definitely against the interests of Israel, which wants to push Gazans into Sinai where they will become refugees like Palestinians dispersed in several Arab countries and then the story will be over forever [AS HAPPENED OF COURSE WHEN THE ‘TENS OF THOUSANDS’ OF GAZANS STORMED THE BORDER IN 2008].
Note that, following the Gaza Freedom March and Viva Palestina, not only has Egypt declared George Galloway persona non grata but it has also banned any future aid convoys for Gaza.
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Links for Jan.05.10

akhbare-rooz (iranian political Bulletin) | List of organizations considered "subversive" by Iranian ministry of inteligence [in Farsi]. ✪ The Daily Star - The Gaza scorecard, one year later | Rami Khouri. ✪ Israel approves east Jerusalem building project | Yet another new settlement. ✪ Library of Congress on Islam in Early America « Anonymous Arabist وين الناس | Fascinating. ✪ Tweet freedom | On Twitter activism in Egypt, unfortunately confuses arabawy.org for arabist.net. ✪ Cairo's US Embassy is Worse by Far | Mamoun Fandy: "The embassy has become an embodiment of the meaning of disgracefulness in Cairo, in terms of people's behavior, rudeness, and impoliteness." ✪ gary's choices - The Decade's First Revolution? | Gary Sick on Iran. ✪ لا لحجب الإنترنت بالجزائر - Non à la censure de l'Internet en Algérie - No to Internet Censorship in Algeria Petition | Petition. ✪ Egyptian minister slams Al-Jazeera for 'instigating civil war' - Ynetnews | Over Gaza wall. ✪ Video: Gaza war: One year on, Palestinians struggle to rebuild life from the rubble | guardian.co.uk | ✪ CIA Bomber a Jihadi Blogger? — jihadica | Interesting background on Abu Dujana, as the bomber was allegedly known. ✪ Dear Metallica | Letter asking the metal band not to perform in Israel. ✪ Free Barghouti Now - Haaretz | OK. ✪ The Daily Nuisance | News From The Frontier | New online site from Israel/Palestine ✪ Three days in Iran - The Big Picture - Boston.com | Great pics of Iranian protests.
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