Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The geopolitics of cement

I met a chap last week I know who had just come back from Afghanistan. He commented that it would be a good time to be in the cement industry in Kabul as they are throwing up concrete blast barriers everywhere. He reckoned the whole city felt very uneasy and all the expats were very gloomy and nervous - and that plus the blast walls reminded him of Baghdad in the even-worse-ole'-days.

Still on a cement theme, last weeks episode of This American Life had a remarkable interview with one of the tunnel owners who runs a business smuggling things into the Gaza Strip from Egypt. He noted that building materials still make up a lot of the produce going into Gaza after the war a year and a bit a go, but bizarrely now they are smuggling a lot of guns out of Gaza and into Egypt where they command a higher price. Supposedly the Hamas government in Gaza has banned the public carrying of weapons, plus there are so many stockpiled in the strip, there are now plenty of spares to be sold off to Egyptian crooks.

The Rafah crossing on the blockaded Gaza-Egypt Border (click to enlarge)

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