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Understanding the New Egypt

Itamar Rabinovich, former Ambassador of Israel to the United States and member of the American Interest‘s editorial board, is incredibly knowledgable and insightful on Middle Eastern history and politics. He recently wrote an astute article on the strategically important Sinai which is well worth your time. A key passage to keep in mind as you digest the moves and machinations of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood over the coming weeks and months:

But Egypt’s divided government has not established a correspondingly coherent policy. Relations with Israel are managed by the defense minister, now Lieutenant General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, and the military security establishment, whose leaders are determined to maintain a peaceful relationship with Israel and to secure Egyptian sovereignty in the Sinai. For them, the lawless Bedouin, the Sinai jihadis, and Hamas and other groups in Gaza threaten Egypt’s national security. But their will and ability to translate this view into policy are limited.

Meanwhile, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are playing a double game. While Morsi denounced the recent violence (particularly the deliberate killing of Egyptian policemen) and issued an implicit threat against Hamas, the Brotherhood published a statement accusing Israel’s Mossad of perpetrating the attack – a claim that Hamas’s Prime Minister of Gaza, Ismael Haniyeh, has repeated.

In fact, Hamas, too, is playing a double game. Having lost Syrian backing, it is hoping that the Egyptian Brothers will provide its kindred movement with political and logistical support. Yet it allows radical Palestinians and jihadi groups in Gaza to conduct operations in Sinai.

Read the whole thing. Add it to your weekend reading list.

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  • Mick The Reactionary

    Rostropovich’s piece has a great deal of inside game.

    Not so much for deep insights. Rabinovich is so blinded by all those trees he sees, he cannot see the forest.
    Given his deep links with US neocons and academics, it is a surprise he makes any sense at all.

    For clarity and insights, not necessarily PC insights, the blog of Israeli Professor Barry Rubin is highly recommended:

    Reality is rather simple. West is weak, PC, lost its senses and afraid of Muslims.
    It was a long time since the last good lesson Muslims had, ie took a good beating.

    Moslems feel empowered and willing to do what they always wanted to do, wage a holy war on infidel.

    The last good beating Israel administered to Egypt was 40 years ago, 2 generations ago.

    Egypt’s youts are free of fear and itching for a fight, a bad development. It will end up badly.

    No amount of verbal pollution from “experts” can change that.

    US Foreign Policy establishment is bi-partisan and insane. Bushobama foreign policy is deferential to Islamics and senseless. Romney’s is likely to be the same, subject to tighter money constraints.

    Israel will be alone in teaching Egypt and Muslims the much needed lesson.

    Do they have strong clear-headed leaders to do it?

  • Mick The Reactionary

    “Rostropovich’s piece”

    My bad, a Freudian slip.
    While we all should enjoy the great late Mstislav Rostropovich music as often as we can, the name of the author is Itamar Rabinovich.

  • Kris

    Mick@1: Israel still seems to be hoping for the best (or biding their time until the Iranian nuclear situation is settled), as can be seen by their not dealing with the Jihadist activity in the Sinai themselves, but rather acquiescing to Egypt supposedly doing so by streaming military forces into the Sinai, in opposition to the terms of their peace treaty.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @Kris says:

    “Israel still seems to be hoping for the best (or biding their time until the Iranian nuclear situation is settled)”

    Sinai problem is a low priority compare to Iran. I guess Israel is waiting for one or two events, perhaps both:

    1. At some point Iran has to bring all their enriched uranium to a single place to actually make a nuke. Ideally Israel knows the place and will know the time and will attempt to destroy all Iranian nuke material at that time.

    2. US Prez Election. Israel can count on Romney being at best a supporter, at worst a lukewarm bystander. BHO at the very best will be neutral and at worst will try to actively sabotage Israel.

  • Kris


    “Ideally Israel knows the place and will know the time and will attempt to destroy all Iranian nuke material at that time.”

    How dare they! After all, there will be no “proof” that Iran plans on attacking Israel with said material which is not yet even a weapon, and as an Israeli strike would spread this radioactive material around, the strike itself should be considered a crime against humanity!


    Regarding the timing: if you think that Romney will win, you can argue that Israel is better off waiting. If, on the other hand, you think Obama will win, you could argue that Israel is better off attacking before the election, while Obama will still be careful about appearing too hard on Israel.

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