Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Plans underway to build nearly $3 billion Saudi-Egyptian Causeway - Israel concerned (IMRA)


[IMRA: Israeli security analysts raise serious concerns about this project:

1. It would facilitate the movement of military equipment between Saudi
Arabia and Egypt. While in time of war the causeway could be closed down via
military action, such a move by Israel would be itself an act of war, thus
it could be expected that the route could be used to move considerable
quantities of equipment before Israel would act against it.

2. It would facilitate the movement of WMD between Saudi Arabia and Egypt -
until now such movement was limited to air and sea transport.

3. The causeway itself could be used to restrict access to the Israeli Port
of Eilat since movement of vessels over a certain height will require
coordination with those operating the causeway.

4. The presence of the heavy equipment that would be required for such a
project could itself be a security issue for Israel.

One security analyst was pessimistic about Israel's ability to protect its
security concerns associated with the proposed project, noting that when
Egypt installed an extensive radar installation on the tip of
Sharam-al-sheikh in late 2002 (that can closely monitor all Israeli traffic)
and Israel protested to Egypt and to the United States that its protests and
concerns were essentially ignored.]

Cairo, Oct 4, SPA [Saudi Press Agency]-- Egyptian Minister of Transport
Essam Sharaf said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Egypt are planning to set
up a causeway across the Red Sea for linking the Saudi Port of Diba with the
Egyptian Port of Sharam-al-sheikh.

In a press statement here today, he said the implementation of the project
would depend on the technical studies which are already in a progressive sta

He added that the cost of the project is estimated to be nearly $3 billion.

On completion of the project, it will facilitate transportation of pilgrims,
Umrah (minor pilgrimage) performers, tourists and commodities.