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Friday, November 17, 2006

Jordanian/Israeli airport idea maybe not so hot

Jane's reports:
The Jordanian and Israeli governments are to step up plans to build an international airport at Jordan's Red Sea resort of Aqaba that would serve both countries.

The planned airport at Aqaba will have two terminals - one Jordanian and one Israeli - and will service international carriers.

The project has been in the works for more than a decade, and was revived when Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres, whose portfolio includes development of the Negev Desert region in southern Israel, and Jordan's King Abdullah II, who favours expanding economic ties with Israel, decided to accelerate joint economic projects.

After the peace treaty with Jordan was signed in 1994, it decided to build a new facility with the Jordanians. The project was shelved when the Palestinian intifada erupted in September 2000.
I can understand the economic reasoning behind this. Eilat is a huge tourist attraction as is Aqaba and having tourists fly straight there from Europe would be a huge boon. Increasing Jordanian/Israeli economic cooperation makes a lot of sense (although it hasn't put a dent in Jordanian citizens' anti-semitic attitudes.)

But let's look at the map:

Is it possible to design a more tempting terror target? We have a low land surrounded by sparsely-populated mountains where it is impossible to patrol effectively. And these mountain ranges happen to be situated in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where Jihadist philosophy is very popular.

How many terrorists will be trying to get their hands on surface to air missiles to get the bragging rights of the first to shoot down a commercial airliner to Aqaba?

Building a major airport will cost billions. Shooting down a single plane that would effectively destroy the economic upside of that airport would cost maybe $50,000. I'm not sure that this is the best use of money.