On my first day in Cairo I met with activists from the anti-Globalisation and anti-war movements here. They spoke about the setting up, in a treaty next week, of several Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) in Egypt. QIZ is a notion that America is enthusiastically peddling throughout the Arab world. The idea of QIZ is that the zones would enjoy all the benefits of tax free exports to America provided that 11.7% of the components they manufacture are from Israel. In Egypt this would largely mean that Egyptian textile goods would include Israeli made zips, buttons etc.
This would not only lead to an increase in sweatshop textile labour (an industry comprising low wage, child and bonded labour living in terrible conditions) but also would require Arab states to continue with a process of normalisation with Israel despite worsening conditions for Palestinians and the continuation of the illegal occupation and apartheid system.
In Egypt the state makes continual noises condemning Israel's oppression of the Palestinians while maintaining a buddy relationship with Israel. This is illustrated by their public condemnation of the Israeli shooting of three Egyptian policemen near Rafah recently and their quick acceptance of an extremely qualified apology from Ariel Sharon. An apology accompanied by comments like one blaming poor Egyptian border controls for the Israeli denial of an air or seaport to the occupied territories.
In Egypt there is widespread popular support for the Palestian struggle, popular support which the government is unable to ignore. To maintain US support Egypt's autocratic regime must pander to Israel's demands over policing of the border and relations with Israel, however they cannot afford to lose their overt support for the palestinan cause
Activists think that the QIZ agreement will be signed on Dec 14th
Hosni Mubarak's Bastard Son