Eyes on Egypt - Feb 1
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Analyst sees little Egypt oil and gas impact
Houston Business Journal
An analyst at a leading global research firm said Tuesday that the despite the ongoing chaos of Egypt’s politics and protests, the impact on global energy production and shipping seems mild thus far.
... while some exploration and production companies with ties to Houston have suspended their Egypt operations, there should be little impact on global oil and gas supplies.
More important, the report said, the critical Suez Canal and Sumed Pipeline have been secured by the Egyptian army and face little threat of a shutdown or major disruption.
(1 February 2011)
Q&A: Suez Canal
Graeme Wearden, Guardian
Q: Why is the Suez Canal important to the world economy?
Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal allows ships travelling between the east and the west to avoid the long journey around the Cape of Good Hope, cutting routes by an average of 6,000 miles. Although the latest generation of huge supertankers cannot traverse the canal fully-laden, it remains one of the world's most important waterways. Around 8% of global sea-borne trade passes through the canal.
The SuMed pipeline runs close to the canal, connecting the Ain Sukhna terminal on the Gulf of Suez to Sidi Kerir on the coast of the Mediterranean, and is just as important as the canal. SuMed transports oil, partly from very large tankers that need to offload some of their cargo before they can fit into the cana
... Q: How much oil travels through Suez?
Around 2.4m barrels of oil are shipped through the canal each day while the SuMed pipeline carries 2.5m a day. That's around 5.5% of world output, according to the latest official forecasts..
... Q: Has the canal been affected by the protests against President Mubarak?
Not yet. Egyptian officials have repeatedly insisted that the canal and SuMed both remain open. Extra armed troops have been deployed along the length of SuMed – more than doubling the number of sentry points to 30. There are currently 65 ships passing through the canal, up from 40 yesterday. Oil tankers typically make up around 10% of traffic.
Q: So why did the oil price break though $100 yesterday?
Because oil traders are very nervous that the protests are going to spread beyond Egypt and across the Arabian peninsula – and probably won't be reassured by the dismissal of the Jordanian government today.
(1 February 2011)
U.S. envoy tells Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step aside
Peter Nicholas and Christi Parsons, Tribune Washington Bureau via LA Times
Frank Wisner, an envoy sent to Cairo at President Obama's request, tells Hosni Mubarak that he should not be part of the 'transition' that the U.S. has called for. 'This message was plainly rebuffed,' says a source.
... In another sign that the Obama administration is planning for a post-Mubarak era, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Margaret Scobey, has spoken to Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who has called upon Mubarak to step down.
... Since the crisis unfolded, the White House has been careful not to publicly take sides in the dispute. The Obama administration is calling for an orderly transition in Egypt but has avoided taking a stance on Mubarak's fate. Rather, U.S. officials have said they do not want to be seen as picking Egypt's leaders and that the nation's future should be determined by its own people.
But the Wisner visit is the latest in a series of indications that the White House has drawn the conclusion that Mubarak cannot realistically remain in place.
(1 February 2011)
Egypt's Unrest May Have Roots in Food Prices, US Fed Policy
Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Newspapers
Economists and experts in food security have warned repeatedly in recent years that an unbridled rise in food prices could trigger the very kind of explosion of citizen anger that's now threatening to topple the Egyptian government. Such anger is likely to rise elsewhere, too.
A large nation with lots of desert, Egypt must import more than half of its food supply. Since 2008, there's been sporadic unrest there as the cost of staples, from bread to fruits to vegetables, has gone up steadily.
... Soaring food prices aren't the only reason that Egyptians took to the streets to try to topple their long-serving president. But they're a significant factor, and a steady surge in global commodity prices reminiscent of 2008 is sure to bring new battles over food security this year.
Protests against food prices recently rocked Jordan and Algeria. These same rising prices were partly why Tunisia's strongman, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled his nation in mid-January. India and China are navigating the difficult waters of trying to control rising prices in their populous nations.
In the trading pits of commodity markets, the buzz is that many poor nations are trying to hoard wheat, corn and other staples. Such stockpiling has added to the bullish sentiment that's driving commodity prices even higher.
(1 February 2011)
Soccer clubs central to ending Egypt's 'Dictatorship of Fear'
Dave Zirin, Sports Illustrated
Over the decades that have marked the tenure of Egypt's "President for Life" Hosni Mubarak, there has been one consistent nexus for anger, organization, and practical experience in the ancient art of street fighting: the country's soccer clubs. Over the past week, the most organized, militant fan clubs, also known as the "ultras," have put those years of experience to ample use.
Last Thursday, the Egyptian Soccer Federation announced that they would be suspending all league games throughout the country in an effort to keep the soccer clubs from congregating. Clearly this was a case of too little, too late. Even without games, the football fan associations have been front and center organizing everything from the neighborhood committees that have been providing security for residents, to direct confrontation with the state police. In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Alaa Abd El Fattah, a prominent Egyptian blogger said, "The ultras -- have played a more significant role than any political group on the ground at this moment." Alaa then joked, "Maybe we should get the ultras to rule the country."
The involvement of the clubs has signaled more than just the intervention of sports fans. The soccer clubs' entry into the political struggle also means the entry of the poor, the disenfranchised, and the mass of young people in Egypt for whom soccer was their only outlet.
(31 January 2011)
The importance of social ties - so often neglected by those focussed on politics and engineering. -BA
The Egyptian people tend to the streets that are now their own (video)
Sarah Goodyear, Grist
Moving video of protesters volunteering to clean up in Tahrir Square during the mass gatherings there against the Mubarak regime. One of the men wearing rubber gloves and collecting trash wears a sign in English saying "To Keep Egypt Clean."
... This is what becomes possible when people feel a sense of ownership about the place where they live. This is what is happening in public spaces during this remarkable uprising.
... Video from Daily News Egypt via The Maddow Blog.
(1 February 2011)