Attacks on Egyptian Pipelines to Israel Are Preventable

Monday, 01 Aug 2011 09:47 AM

By Tawfik Hamid

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For the fifth time since the Egyptian revolution of Jan. 25, and for the third time this month, the pipelines carrying natural gas from Egypt to Israel came under attack.

The alarming numbers of incidents should lead one to ask why the Egyptian government has not been able to prevent these attacks.

It is well known that problems cannot be solved unless its root causes are addressed.

In addition to the need for sufficient security of these pipelines, the following factors contributed to the repeated attacks on the gas pipelines:
  • Accusing others instead of blaming oneself: It is impossible to fix someone’s problem if they consistently refuse to admit their own mistakes and instead insist that the problem is a conspiracy by ‘others’. Since the first attacks on the gas pipelines, Egyptian officials and media personnel immediately pointed their fingers to blame foreign powers instead of admitting that the problem is the expected outcome of unprecedented levels of anti-Semitism in the country, as well as a growing terror element in the Sinai.
  • Unwise decisions on foreign policy: One of the earliest decisions of Nabil Al-Arabi, who was the foreign minister of the country (from March to June 2011) and currently the secretary general of the Arab League, was to permanently open the Egyptian borders with Gaza. This unwise decision obviously allowed many Islamic radicals from Hamas and related terror groups in Gaza to freely enter Egypt. It is likely that some of these Islamists orchestrated the repeated attacks on the pipelines in the last month.
  • Failure to communicate to the Egyptian people the negative impact of these attacks on the Egyptian economy: One of the actions that could have possibly helped in preventing attacks on the gas pipelines was to inform the Egyptian people that the attacks are counterproductive as they would further aggravate the financial problems in Egypt.
  • Lack of strong religious denouncement for the attacks: Issuing a ‘Fatwa’ by leading religious scholars to consider the attacks a criminal act could have decreased the religious zeal that justifies many such attacks.
  • Failure to effectively use the Koran to prevent further attacks: Many dedicated Muslims think that it is justifiable for them to break the peace treaty with Israel and to attack Israeli targets to show support and solidarity with what they consider their Palestinian Muslim brothers. What many of these Islamists need to know is that the Koran allows Muslims to support other Muslims against their ‘enemies’ ONLY if the latter do not have a peace treaty with that enemy. (Koran 8:72 — And if they seek help of you in the name of religion, then you must help, except against a people between yourselves and whom is a treaty.)
According to this verse, the Egyptian Muslims are not permitted to support the Palestinians against Israel as Egypt is bound by a peace treaty with Israel.

Unless and until the Egyptian leadership addresses the above factors and wisely works on solving these problems, it will be very difficult to stop future attacks on these pipelines.

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