Saturday, July 19, 2014

The shifting sands

As many know, the Egyptian cease-fire agreement was shrugged off by Hamas.

But, what is more interesting is Egypt.  Not since Sadat has there been such a move out of Cairo.

The Egyptian move reflects an unseen war that is hidden in between the lines of this unfolding conflict. By talking to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and including none of the conditions Hamas’s asked, Egypt made sure Hamas would never accept the ceasefire. For there is one thing that Hamas always seeks in any conflict,it is to be considered as the only credible representative of the Palestinian people, which they are actually less and less. Egypt on its side, sees Hamas as a regional threat, responsible for the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula as it created a complex smuggling network, and exported its radical doctrine, making the once quiet border with Israel a ticking time bomb. Beyond the mere fact that Hamas is officially the Gazan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood which is Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s deadliest enemy, Hamas is, in Egypt’s assessment, the key to quelling the Islamist insurgency in Sinai.

Egyptian troops, tanks and helicopters have been deployed in Sinai, in coordination with Israel and despite it being specifically forbidden by the Camp David peace treaty. Yet there is one place Egyptian troops will never go and which will as a result remain a safe haven for the Sinai militants: The Gaza Strip. Because its public opinion would never understand it, an Egyptian operation in Gaza is unthinkable. Yet Egypt has done more to destroy Hamas, than any other country, including Israel. Since the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Morsi, it has systematically destroyed smuggling tunnels used by Hamas to collect taxes and smuggle weapon. In Rafah, it has destroyed houses to create a de-facto buffer zone at the border with the Gaza Strip. Two rockets attacks against Egyptian targets in Northern Sinai and near the border with the Gaza strip in the last days, further show the Sinai militants’ understanding that Egypt is out to topple Hamas."

Who can blame the Al-Sisi?  In addition to the security issues the Muslim Brotherhood presents, it probably helps that Israel has technology that Egypt could desperately use right now.  Such as in agriculture and communications.  There is much more to be gained from a solid partner when it comes to trade, of course.  Compared to a terrorist organization, who hadn't thought past revenge, is a no brainer.

Hopefully, this is a sign of a major landscape shift in the Middle East.  One in which more moderate voices join in allying with Israel, instead of the Muslim brotherhood and the radicals.