Egypt Eyes Gaza Reconstruction To Boost Regional Clout

Egypt eyes Gaza reconstruction to boost regional clout

Cairo, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 11th Jun, 2021 ) :Egypt is banking on a $500-million Gaza reconstruction project to shore up its influence in the middle East, capitalising on clout it garnered by brokering a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged the cash injection to rebuild the Gaza Strip after it was left in ruins during an 11-day Israeli air strikes.

The aid package is in the form of construction undertaken by Egyptian firms -- a playbook that Sisi has used to great effect domestically since taking power in 2014.

Sisi has employed the military's engineering arm for large-scale infrastructure projects such as the construction of a new administrative capital, as well as dozens of flyovers and highways nationwide.

"Sisi no doubt sees this reconstruction aid as an investment in exchange for political influence -- both on Egypt's border in Gaza and at the international level," Sarah Smierciak, a Middle East political economist, told AFP.

Egypt's heavily secured Rafah crossing is Gaza's only passage to the outside world not controlled by Israel, which has blockaded the enclave since 2007.

In a rare move, Cairo opened the crossing during intense fighting to allow wounded Palestinians to be treated in Egyptian hospitals.

"This pledge will make Egypt's voice heard among Palestinian ranks," said Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, a Cairo University professor of political science.

"It (the reconstruction) is definitely a part of Egypt regaining its regional role," he added.