Holiday Reading: China Backdoor For Iran, Mubarak’s Corruption, US policy on Egypt

Happy holidays everyone. (It is the Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Adha, for those that don’t follow the Middle East too closely).

Here are some interesting reads.

Iranian sanctions 

An Iranian partner of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, a Chinese company that has denied breaking US sanctions, last year tried to sell embargoed American antenna equipment to an Iranian firm, according to documents obtained and interviews by Reuters.

This juicy exclusive, by Steve Stecklow (who is a Pulitzer prize-winning investigative reporter and formerly of Wall Street Journal), details how the buyer – an Iranian mobile-phone operator – says it canceled the deal with Huawei when it learnt the items were subject to sanctions and before any equipment was delivered.

It is a technical read, but it is an important one that reflects how “China has become a backdoor way for Iran to obtain embargoed US computer equipment.”


Mubarak’s corruption 

A three-part series detailing the extent of corruption in Egypt at the hands of the former regime of Hosni Mubarak.

The National’s Cairo correspondent, Bradley Hope, who often delves into investigative reporting, obtained confidential documents from Egypt’s ministry of justice to uncover:

How the Mubarak family was worth millions not billions 

The seedy world of Hussein Salem, a Mubarak confidante and tycoon

The extent of low-level corruption in Egypt 

The series is full of great details on how

An interesting statistic that jumped out at me in the final story is as follows:

Corruption now accounts for up to five per cent of Egypt’s 6.4 per cent domestic inflation rate, estimates Tarek Selim, an economist at the American University in Cairo and an economic advisor to the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA).

That’s a huge contribution to the country’s inflation rate, if Mr Selim’s estimations are accurate.


US-Egypt policy 

Eric Trager, the Next Generation Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, writes about the missing Obama-Romney debate on Egypt in The Atlantic.

It is a sum of how neither candidate recommended a way to address the country’s increasing radicalism and instability and questions how well they really understand Egypt’s problems.

The piece may have been a strong critique of the US stance toward Egypt and the Middle East, if it weren’t so clouded by partisanship.  There are many generalisations in this article including the following:

The candidates espoused a virtually identical set of guiding principles – Egypt’s new government, they agreed, should uphold the rights of women, protect religious minorities, and act as a partner in American counterterrorism efforts – but failed to say how they would deal with Egyptian Islamists’ rejection of these things.

In this vein, the latest draft of Egypt’s constitution conditions women’s equality on its adherence to “Islamic sharia judgments,” and Islamists have said that this could legalize marriage to young girls — perhaps as early as nine years-old. Would either Obama or Romney use American aid to Egypt as leverage to protect Egyptian girls from this horrific future?

Much of the piece appears to be hinged on sweeping generalisations such as Egypt’s apparent potential to introduce child marriages. Mr Trager appears to be falling prey to the shrill media campaigns against one man’s thought process – an ultra conservative Salafist whose opinions are shared by a few.

It is a far cry from any change in Egypt’s current law, which states the minimum age for marriage for both men and women is 18.


Gaza water crisis 

Currently, 91% of households in Gaza are connected to the municipal water infrastructure. However as of May 2012, 40% of Gaza residents living in Gaza city, Rafah and Jabalia receive water once every four days, while 35% of the other residents receive water once every three days, according to this informative article from The Palestine Monitor.

The article describes the detrimental impacts of an intermittent water supply due to power cuts, including the risk of disease due to a lack of sanitary water.

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