Also not in dispute is that since the ill-named “Arab Spring” emerged in Egypt, the gas deal with Israel has become, as Israeli commentator Boaz Bismuth notes,
one of the main issues with which to bash the old regime: Cairo is carrying out a broad investigation into the deal; Mubarak’s two sons as well as his high-ranking officials are being investigated in a huge corruption probe surrounding the deal; the people, many of whom are hungry and poor, read in the papers every day how Israel is responsible for the loss of millions of dollars in revenue, which have been “stolen” from the Egyptians.
That use of Israel as the national whipping-boy, it should be noted, is not an innovation of the new, “Arab Spring” Egypt; it occurred under the Mubarak regime—peace treaty and all—as well. But with Egypt’s presidential elections scheduled for May and June and the Islamists angling for an ever-greater share of power, there is a real danger of Israel- and Jew-hatred turning from a national sport and emotional outlet into something more tangibly dangerous.
The U.S. Congress, aware of such danger, has made warnings that continued U.S. military aid to Egypt—now at $1.3 billion annually—depends on upholding the peace treaty. One outcome of that treaty is that Egypt became a U.S. client state, its armed forces equipped with top-of-the-line U.S.-manufactured planes, tanks, and missiles. It makes little sense to keep strengthening an Egypt that reduces the U.S.-brokered treaty to a laughingstock. The gas cutoff—whoever, in the now-chaotic polity, is behind it—is another step in that direction.
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