Like Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Israeli prime minister and the heads of the Israeli Army are concerned about the current developments in Egypt. Thirty-three years have passed since a peace agreement was inked between Cairo and Tel Aviv and now it could collapse at any moment.
Three decades after the signing of a peace accord will Israel and Egyptians are still not convinced that peace with Israel is beneficial for them. Besides dictatorship and the prevention of general freedoms, one of the things the Egyptian people had always censured Hosni Mubarak for had been his insistence on continuing peace with Israel and even allowing it to rule over part of the country.
It is a great nightmare for Israel that it borders 80 million people, who take pride in their performance during the six-day war and still keep pictures of their legendary leaders, who preceded Cairo’s inclination towards the West, and who at least will not tolerate the Egyptian Army’s playing the role of the border guard for Israel.
The first priority for Egyptians is toppling of Hosni Mubarak and setting up a government, which would be committed to their votes and opinions as well as social justice and whose performance is calculable. Egypt has contributed to the history of human civilization and has, to the same extent, contributed to the prevalence of Islam and the Islamic culture. Hosni Mubarak degraded Egypt’s people and Army during his 30-year rule. Ever since, Anwar El Sadat neared himself to the US and inked a peace agreement with Israel, Egypt’s economy leaned towards the Western model and developed the same tendency to profit as soon as possible. This leaning crowned during the Mubarak era and major investors emerged in Egypt, whose existence relies on their closeness with the center power. This gradually weakened the Egyptian middle class and widened class differences.
Tunisia’s revolution is a small example of what will take place in Egypt. The difference between the two countries is not simply in Tunisia’s 10 million and Egypt 80 million population. Tunisia’s government was isolated in North Africa and in Middle East developments, but Egypt present and influential throughout the Middle East. Cairo is Washington’s biggest ally and the first Arab state to enter a peace accord with Tel Aviv. Although, the very deal pushed country out of the Arab League for some time, no Arab state could find itself needless of Cairo.
What happens in Egypt affects the US and Europe, who usually back Middle Eastern dictators until their very last moments and now must admit their weakness and that they cannot be the driving force in the Middle East. Arab countries like Egypt’s possession of democracy, elections, authorized opposition parties, economic development and privatization under US, European governments, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank’s is but an illusion and a deception, and which is now inflicting the biggest damage on the West and its major ally in the Middle East, Israel.
The very same Western governments, which hailed Mubarak’s prudence and tactfulness in running political affairs, and which regarded him as one of the key pillars of their presence in the Middle East, are now asking him to respect the popular vote and give up acts of violence. The objective is clear: To keep the Egyptian establishment in power without Mubarak; exactly like what happened in Tunisia after deposed Tunisian President Zine El Abidin Ben Ali fled the country. Interestingly enough, US Vice President Joe Biden still describes Mubarak as a democratic person, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on Egyptians to exercise restraint.
Indisputably, the United States and Europe together with Israel have no idea of Egypt’s future, nor can they do anything to halt the current developments in the country. They are just like bystanders whose houses are being washed away by floods.
Gone is the era of Mubarakism in Egypt. Mubarak’s candidacy for re-election in the presidential polls next fall, or bequeathing power to his son, Jamal, is merely wishful thinking. Like what happened in Tunisia, the West may try to keep in, or bring to power those close to them during the transition period. But even if they manage to do so, there would be major differences between the new Egypt and the old one.
Mubarak was a key impediment to the enhancement of relations between Iran and Arab governments. In the meantime, the White House hailed his role in slapping sanctions on Iran and aggrandizing the country’s nuclear threat in the Middle East. Without a shadow of a doubt, no new government in Egypt would be willing to continue this role. Another player in Washington’s policy vis-à-vis Iran is Saudi Arabia whose ailing monarch is among the few leaders who have expressed their solidarity with Mubarak. This comes as the Saudi king cannot even tolerate the reaction of some 30 individuals to the recent flooding in Jeddah.
Lebanese President Saad Hariri and the March 14 Alliance approved of Hosni Mubarak and considered his backing as a bulwark against Syria. The US and France overestimated the power of Saad Hariri and his allies in Lebanon and in the whole region. Now, they have no option, but to accept the premiership of a Syrian ally.
Besieging Gaza was definitely impossible without Mubarak’s help. A few hundred Egyptian Army and security forces who, under the Camp David Accords, had permission to be stationed in the Sinai desert had two key responsibilities: To keep commodities from entering Gaza, and to kill Africans who, in hopes of making money, tried to illegally cross the Sinai desert into occupied Palestine.
Now, the Sinai desert is, to some extent, out of the control of Egypt’s central government as well as Army and security forces. Israelis are extremely concerned about the possible shipments of foodstuff, medicines, industrial equipment and even military aid to Gaza. Some Israeli ministers say that the Egyptian uprising is a volcanic situation and “We are all at the crater of a volcano.”
Israelis should either stand by and watch, or attack Gaza or Sinai to maintain the current balance. The invasion of Sinai will fuel the flames of fire all across the Middle East, and any raid on Gaza won’t go unanswered.
What is unfolding in Egypt is a local development with regional and international ramifications. The US experienced the Islamic Revolution of Iran and its regional as well as global impacts over thirty years ago, but it learned no lesson, and continued to throw its weight behind dictators in the Mideast.
This comes as everybody in the White House is praying that Egyptians exercise self-restraint !!!