Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016



Protesters filled Cairo's famed Tahir Square again this week. Only this time, they were NOT celebrating an Arab Spring. Nope...THIS April...Egyptians are furious about the recent actions of their "President" Abdel el-Sisi. For the last four days, he hosted a summit with newly crowned King Salman from Saudi Arabia. Both heads of state are relative newcomers and wanted to show their collective constituencies they are competent leaders. At the end of the day, Egypt got what it wanted (Money & oil) and The Kingdom got what it wanted (Two tiny islands in the Red Sea).

When the average Cairene (the fancy word for a resident of Cairo) read about this incident, their first reaction was anger: "Sisi is selling our land for Saudi Riyals! For shame!" See, Egyptians are very sensitive about every square inch of their national territory. And for good reason! Neighboring nations are always stealing land! Former President Anwar Sadat worked hard to restore the Sinai Penninsula after decades of Israeli annexation. Likewise, Mubarak forced Sudan out of the Halaib Triangle, another region militarily occupied by a bordering nation. Hence, no two Egyptian islands are insignificant...even if they are uninhabited.

But are the isles of Tiran and Sanafir even Egyptian to begin with? Further historical examination reveals a long list of previous owners. Ottoman Turks held sway for 500 years, followed by an English Queen and a Saudi King. However, from 1918 to the present, they have been clearly in Egypt's borders...apart from the Israeli occupation 1967 - 1982. So...in reality...any of five states could make a solid case for ownership. Unfortunately, the average Egyptian knows he/she will never see any of the $22 billion in oil deals. For Cairenes, the summit proves what they already know: Saudi Arabia has taken their crown as the leader of the Sunni Arab world.

Finally, we need to touch on another reason why protesters filled Tahir Square this week: Horrific Traffic Jams. Just like when President Obama visits your metropolis, Saudi Royalty also have the power to shut-down major thoroughfares. Gridlock then snarls the remaining streets still open to traffic. Many of the Cairenes at the demonstration were taxi drivers. We here at the DUNER BLOG agree: If Presidents, Kings and Prime Ministers really cared about the people, they would take the subway for official visits. (Cairo's subway is even air-conditioned!)

Sadly, lost in all the hubbub over shady oil deals and land transfers, was the one lasting outcome from the summit: THE KING SALMAN BRIDGE. See, when you drive between the two nations, you have to drive through 2 miles of Israeli territory and 3 miles of Jordan. A simple, 12 mile bridge over the Gulf of Aqaba solves the problem. Both sides agreed and construction will soon be underway. While the Arab world should be celebrating this development, they instead flood the square in anger over a small, petty aspect of the overall deal. Imagine what could be accomplished if Arab nations forgot about all of their silly fifty year old borders and instead worked together to share their ample natural resources..

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