Egypt's Lost Power

2014, Politics  -  48 min Leave a Comment
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There is a group of men who have grown rich through secretive energy deals between Egypt and Israel. They have cost the Egyptian people billions of dollars in lost revenues. One of the men responsible was a confidante of ex-president Hosni Mubarak, the other a former Israeli intelligence officer who is now suing the Egyptian State. The film investigates the role of energy in the most important relationship in the Middle East - Israel's peace accord with Egypt - as a new balance of power emerges in the region.

Israel has laid claim to some of the largest gas fields discovered this century. As gas shortages sweep Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is hoping that a clandestine deal to buy gas from Israel will secure his political future.

Since its foundation Israel's lack of oil and gas has been a key strategic weakness. In the 1960s it look to neighboring Egypt. Egypt has been extracting gas from the waters off its coast since the 1960s. During the 1967's Arab-Israeli war Israel seized the Sinai Peninsula and a number of oilfields there. This set the stage for this relationship of energy interdependence.

In the 1970s up to two-thirds of Israel's oil came from a land that was illegally occupied. As the United States began brokering talks that would lead to the Camp David accords, the State Department made a secret offer to appease Israel. The US agreed to supply Israel with oil for five years if its own supplies are disrupted and it cannot meet its normal requirements.

When the Camp David Accords were signed in 1978 Israel agreed to a full withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. The United States formally committed itself to guarantee Israel with energy for a further 15 years. But there was a further agreement at Camp David that was rarely discussed - Egypt committed itself to supplying oil to Israel.

The peace accords also brought together the interest of two powerful groups - Egypt's military and intelligence services began regular meetings with their Israeli counterparts. This was to have profound effects on Egypt's future. In 1993, another historic deal was again to entangle energy policy with proposals for Middle East peace. In the Oslo Accords the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized the State of Israel. Egypt was repaid for its role in convincing the Palestinian leadership to sign the deal.