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The Israel-Egypt Gas Deal Is Highly Advantageous to Both Countries

March 1 2018

The Texas-based firm Noble Energy and the Israeli firm Delek recently concluded an agreement with Egypt’s Dolphinus to export natural gas from Israel’s offshore reserves to Egyptian gas-liquefaction facilities—the only such facilities in the region—and then export it to Europe. As Zvi Mazel explains, the economic benefit to both countries can be substantial, but anti-Israel sentiment could still get in the way:

Egyptian officials were at pains to stress that this was a business deal between private companies, while at the same time emphasizing that it was a first step toward making Egypt a regional gas market. . . . These attempts to preempt accusations of “normalization” [of relations with Israel] were not wholly successful. Questions were asked in parliament; an attorney petitioned the [Egyptian] supreme court to void the deal.

The ink hadn’t dried yet on the deal when Cyprus revealed that it, too, was engaged in negotiations with Cairo regarding the export of gas from its Aphrodite offshore field not far from the coast of Egypt. . . . Aphrodite’s reserves are estimated at some 129-billion cubic meters. Noble energy, Delek drilling, and Avner oil exploration [another Israeli company] hold significant shares in that field.

Several routes exist for optimizing the production of eastern Mediterranean gas fields. . . . Yet significant obstacles lie ahead. Ongoing disputes concern the maritime borders of all parties involved. Cyprus reached an agreement with Egypt regarding the delimitation of its maritime borders in 2003, in 2007 with Lebanon, and in 2013 with Israel. . . . Egypt, [however], has never delimited its maritime borders with Israel. It’s currently not happy with the agreement between Cyprus and Israel, even though its commercial waters are not affected and the coordinates of that agreement conform with internationally accepted criteria. . . .

That said, the enormous gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean could significantly contribute to the economic development and stability of the countries of the region, provided these governments can set aside their conflicts and differences of opinion to work together for their mutual benefit. As things stand, political and religious interests have the upper hand, and it’s hard to see how they could be overcome or avoided.

Read more at JNS

More about: Cyprus, Egypt, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Natural Gas

The Future of a Free Iran May Lie with a Restoration of the Shah

June 25 2018

Examining the recent waves of protest and political unrest in the Islamic Republic—from women shunning the hijab to truckers going out on strike—Sohrab Ahmari considers what would happen in the event of an actual collapse of the regime. Through an analysis of Iranian history, he concludes that the country would best be served by placing Reza Pahlavi, the son and heir of its last shah, at the head of a constitutional monarchy:

The end of Islamist rule in Iran would be a world-historical event and an unalloyed good for the country and its neighbors, marking a return to normalcy four decades after the Ayatollah Khomeini founded his regime. . . . But what exactly is that normalcy? . . .

First, Iranian political culture demands a living source of authority to embody the will of the nation and stand above a fractious and ethnically heterogenous society. Put another way, Iranians need a “shah” of some sort. They have never lived collectively without one, and their political imagination has always been directed toward a throne. The constitutionalist experiment of the early 20th century coexisted (badly) with monarchic authority, and the current Islamic Republic has a supreme leader—which is to say, a shah by another name. It is the height of utopianism to imagine that a 2,500-year-old tradition can be wiped away. The presence of a shah, [however], needn’t mean the absence of rule of law, deliberative politics, or any of the other elements of ordered liberty that the West cherishes in its own systems. . . .

Second, Iranian political culture demands a source of continuity with Persian history. The anxieties associated with modernity and centuries of historical discontinuity drove Iranians into the arms of Khomeini and his bearded minions, who promised a connection to Shiite tradition. Khomeinism turned out to be a bloody failure, but there is scant reason to imagine the thirst for continuity has been quenched. . . . Iranian nationalism . . . could be the answer, and, to judge by the nationalist tone of the current upheaval, it is the one the people have already hit upon.

When protestors chant “We Will Die to Get Iran Back,” “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, My Life Only for Iran,” and “Let Syria Be, Do Something for Me,” they are expressing a positive vision of Iranian nationhood: no longer do they wish to pay the price for the regime’s Shiite hegemonic ambitions. Iranian blood should be spilled for Iran, not Gaza, which for most Iranians is little more than a geographical abstraction. It is precisely its nationalist dimension that makes the current revolt the most potent the mullahs have yet faced. Nationalism, after all, is a much stronger force and in Iran the longing for historical continuity runs much deeper than liberal-democratic aspiration. Westerners who wish to see a replay of Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 in today’s Iran will find the lessons of Iranian history hard and distasteful, but Iranians and their friends who wish to see past the Islamic Republic must pay heed.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Iran, Nationalism, Politics & Current Affairs, Shah