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Egyptian Threats, Gazan Counterfeiting: Unpacking Today's DailyBriefing

In today's DailyBriefing, we noted that Egypt has threatened Gazans that "[a]nyone who violates Egypt's borders will get his leg broken."

We then noted the Los Angeles Times' blog Babylon and Beyond, which wrote briefly of 'Egypt's change of heart' with regard to the Palestinians ahead of Hamas' Khaled Meshaal's Cairo visit. The Times' Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo cited new-found Egyptian doubts about the veracity of claims of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, as stated by an Egyptian state-run newspaper's editor-in-chief. Abdullah Kamal wrote in the Rosa-al-Yousef paper, "Each [Gazan] comer spent an average of US$260 in three days....the total spending during that period [where the Gazans broke through Egypt] reached US$ 220 million. These figures raise real questions about the financial situation in the Gaza Strip."

Well, there's more to the explanation than questioning the financial state of Gaza, which was no metropolis before the incessant Hamas rocket attacks on Israel invited the 'siege' of Gaza.

Follow into the next item in the Egypt section of today's ThreatsWatch DaliyBriefing, and you will learn another state-run Egyptian newspaper reveals that there is a very different explanation for the inexplicably large sums of money spent by quite poor Gazans: counterfeiting. Mohamed Ali Ibrahim, editor of Al-Gomhuria daily, said that "money used by Gazans to shop in Egypt were mostly counterfeit."

And this, many lost (really stolen) millions at the expense of Egyptian vendors, is perhaps as much an inspiration for the sudden Egyptian ire than any understanding among the United States, Israel and Egypt. It makes more real sense than any other explanation offered or imagined. Readers may disagree here, which is why the DailyBriefing is offered sans commentary. But consider how the wheels fly off the wagon in traditional fashion with Ibrahim's logic as he attempts to explain Hamas' untrustworthiness.

"Do not believe Hamas, it implements an Israeli plan that aims at first to secure Israel's security ... and destroy the Palestinian Authority," Ibrahim wrote.

The populist and conspiratorial logic of Hamas furthering any Israeli 'plan' may be incredulous, but the published sentiment is wholly authentic.

The bottom line is that while Hamas may be the Palestinian extension of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, no friends to Mubarak's rule, the sudden (and violent) shift in quasi-official Egyptian tone (via state-run papers) regarding Gazans coincides sharply with revelations of an Egyptian ripoff at the hands of the Palestinians. And a sizable ripoff to the tune of potentially over $100 million. That's no small pile of beans. And the tone in response is also not necessarily a strengthening of Egyptian-Israeli relations. It's good old-fashioned anger.

These are the dots we see this morning, and we share them in our DailyBriefing today and connect them here. So when you read the DailyBriefings, do so knowing that while we are selecting the significant events and developments of the day, often the links are seen by us as inter-related and contextually connected, each revealing its own piece of a larger puzzle.

The entire Egypt section of today's is a perfect example of our attempt at providing this context. I've sought to share the logic behind today's selections here in order to assist readers in gaining the larger intended value from the DailyBriefings than a collection of news links.

1 Comment

Foreign currency counterfeiting is not new or surprising. In fact, its been going on for hundreds of years. Today, counterfeiting is rampant in some African nations like Rwanda and Zimbabwe. Its not just U.S. currency that gets counterfeited.