egypt tunnels smugglers north korea

To Deal With Gaza, Egypt Could Borrow a Page

How to Deal With North Korea Effectively

The urge to control others trumps the Moslem Brotherhood who use what's not working on North Korea. We excerpt three 2013 articles from: (1) Associated Press, Feb 19, on Palestine by I. Barzak; (2) CNN, Feb 18, on Korea by GPS staff; and (3) New Statesman, Feb 18, on a UK bill by D. Cooper.

by Ibrahim Barzak, by Global Public Square, and by David Cooper

The Hamas rulers of Gaza and local smugglers accused Egypt of flooding cross-border tunnels with sewage water in order to halt a thriving smuggling trade that has propped up the local economy for the past five years.

Flooding the dozens of tunnels that run along the short Gaza-Egypt border was a rare act of tension between the Hamas government and their ideological parent, the Muslim Brotherhood, which now dominates Egypt's government.

The Egyptian effort appears to be aimed at closing down the illegal routes to better control what is going in. It follows an Egyptian-brokered deal that eased Israeli restrictions on building material going into Gaza.

Israel and Egypt have restricted the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza since the militant group Hamas seized power of the territory six years ago. Much of the blockade has been loosened over the years, but residents still rely on the tunnels to get vital goods that are otherwise difficult to obtain in Gaza, such as construction materials and cheap fuel.

The tunnels have kept a modest construction boom flowing in Gaza that employs thousands of people, while an estimated 2,000 men and boys work in some 250 border tunnels.

But the tunnels are also easy conduits for weapons and militants to pass in and out of Gaza and the nearby lawless Sinai desert peninsula. From Sinai, militants have launched attacks against Egyptian and Israeli forces.

Still, more than one hundred tunnels were operational, smugglers said.

An Egyptian military official in Sinai said the operation to flood the tunnels began Feb. 3. He added that they have also confiscated "large quantities of goods," including steel, cement, flour, sugar, fruit and computers.

To read more

JJS: Perhaps Egypt should reconsider.

What if the best way to change North Korea is more commerce and communication with it rather than less?

Sanctions rarely work.
* In Cuba, 54 years of sanctions have kept the Castros in power while its citizens have suffered.
* In Iran, unprecedented sanctions have been in place for years, but there is no clear sign that the real powers that be, the Mullahs, are in peril.
* In Syria, no amount of pressure has had any impact on Bashar al-Assad's brutality.

Myanmar embodies the opposite approach. Asian countries traded with Myanmar, invited it to diplomatic gatherings and, over time, persuaded the military junta to open itself up, both domestically and to the world.

Meanwhile, the people of North Korea have suffered. In the 1990s, an estimated 2 million people died in a nationwide famine. North Koreans have almost no contact with the outside world. Less than 10 percent of them have mobile phones, and those are not allowed to call outside the country. Per capita income is estimated to be somewhere around $1,000 a year, about 1/20 of that in neighboring South Korea. The best path to open up with North Korea might be trade deals, travel programs.

In the very short run, these partnerships do give the regime some credibility, but in the long run, commerce and contracts are the assets of modernity that always wear down dictatorships.

To read more

JJS: Yes, commerce does create peace. Which makes it ironic that peaceful governments interfere with international commerce, imposing tariffs and cuotas, and with domestic commerce, imposing inequitable taxes and distortive subsidies. And worse, most societies allow the private retention of ground rents which builds up class and elites and creates inferiority complexes, all of which predisposes some people to commit acts of aggression. Well, at least class-ridden Great Britain may finally be moving away from all that.

Through no effort of their own, landowners reap a £100bn annual windfall.

Caroline Lucas, Brighton’s Green MP, has submitted a private member’s bill promoting a land value tax. After some delay, it should have its second reading on 1 March. Every progressive politician in Westminster should support this bill.

To read more

JJS: When society does recover some socially-generated land value, that does make land more affordable which increases owner occupancy at the expense of absentee ownership. In more egalitarian and prosperous societies, people are less drawn to acts of violence. So other nations are less likely to embargo them.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

What's the Fair Price for Land Rent?

Time to Stop the hatred?

Political Boundaries Hurt

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