Is a N. African security bloc in the making?

Tripoli, Libya at Night (NASA, International S...

Tripoli, Libya at Night (NASA, International Space Station, 04/18/13) (Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)

Linda S. Heard

Published — Tuesday 3 June 2014

SO-called freedom activists are beating their chests over the landslide victory of Field Marshall Abdel-Fatah El-Sissi, set to be inaugurated as Egypt’s new president next week. And they perceive the Libyan people’s backing of Gen. Khalifa Hiftar’s anti-militia onslaught as a step back from their revolutionary goals. The idea of strongmen prioritizing stability over individual freedoms is anathema to many, but the stark truth is that western-style democracy cannot flourish amid a climate of violence.
The misbehavior of the few has had a negative impact on the majority and now ordinary people in Libya and Egypt just want to get on with their lives. Many who sought democracy now equate it with anarchy, a sad truth that is incontestable among ordinary working people and owners of small businesses, experiencing pain in their pockets. They’ve rightly or wrongly concluded that there’s no democracy without stability.
That’s glaringly true in Libya that’s become awash with heavy weapons, feuding militias and foreign militants. Almost every household has a gun for self-defense. That was not how Libyans imagined their country post-revolution. They didn’t go to the streets calling for the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi in order to get a lawless land reminiscent of the Wild West or an impotent government unable to keep them safe or even to gain control over Libya’s main economic resource — oil and gas. And Egyptians didn’t topple Mubarak to get serial protests, growing joblessness or unsafe streets prompting the flight of investors and tourists.
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Radioactive Material Stolen in Egypt

KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images

A radioactive warning symbol

Summary

Calibration devices that may contain radioactive material were reportedly stolen from a contentious nuclear power plant that is under construction Jan. 18 in Dabaa, Egypt. Due to the small amounts of radioactive material that would be in each device, the threat of malicious exposure to radiation is very low, though accidental exposure is a possibility. In fact, given the public discontent over the power plant, it is likely that the thieves do not know what the devices are and only took them as part of a larger theft intended to delay the plant’s construction.

Analysis

Egyptian state-run newspaper Al-Ahram on Jan. 19 reported the theft a day earlier of calibration devices that may contain radioactive material from a controversial nuclear power plant under construction in Dabaa, Egypt. The identities of the thieves are unknown, but it is possible that they are local Bedouins, who have been vandalizing and violently protesting against the plant, which is being built on land taken from them without compensation.

If the stolen devices do contain radioactive material, that material could be extremely dangerous, but it is unlikely that the thieves even know what they possess. The radioactive devices were likely just part of a larger theft intended to delay the plant’s construction. For this reason and others, the threat of malicious radiation exposure is very low. Instead, the greater risk is from accidental exposure.

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