Tag Archives: Egypt

Arabs Fear Rise Of Right Wing Israel Politics

The apparent triumph of right wing Israeli parties to the leadership of their nation has sent fears running through the spines of Arab leaders who believe the last hope for peace in the Middle East has been lost. The prospect of having to deal with conservative Benjamin Netanyahu means there will be scant possibility of compromise on the part of Israeli leaders which may doom the prospects for peace. Openly anti-Arab leaders like Avigdor Lieberman only seek to drive out all Palestinians and gain control of as much of Palestine as they can obtain either legally or illegally. The Syrian government run Al Thawra commented: “the Israelis are electing war and extremism.” This theme is being echoed in newspapers throughout the Middle East.

Years of diplomatic failure on the part of both sides have resulted in feelings of doubt that any real change in the region is possible under current leadership. A few Arab leaders who have worked with right wing conservative, Benjamin Netanyahu believe he is capable of genuine compromise in problem solving. Perhaps, it will take a right wing conservative to implement peace with Israel that entails equitable resolution of several land issues.

What Is Egypt’s Role In Gaza?

The world has focused on the actions of Israel in Gaza, but less attention has been placed on where Egypt stands in the situation. There is considerable concern over the inability of Gazans to receive shipments of goods through crossing sites, but the world appears less interested in the position of Egypt on this issue. The Mubarak government is a thinly disguised authoritarian entity which brooks no criticism of its power and actions. Egyptian police have been halting demonstrations in support of Gaza and they are rounding up individuals who use Facebook or MySpace in order to send information or organize protests about Egyptian actions in the area. A German blogger and student activist, Philip Rizik was recently arrested and taken to a secret location for questioning. His parents are not able to obtain information concerning his fate.

Egypt plays a key role in any discussions regarding the future of Gaza. Mubarak does not want a radical Muslim group like Hamas on his border given his concern about the Muslim Brotherhood in his own country. Individuals like Rizik will be kept quiet because demonstrations, unless organized by the police, are not tolerated in Mubarak’s little world of power and control.

Egypt Tired Of Gaza, Israel, Hamas, and The World..

During the past decades the Egyptian government has been trapped in a vise between the Israelis and Palestinians, particularly on the issue of Gaza. The only entry point into Gaza that is not under the control of Israel Rafah where Egyptian soldiers are in charge. They are under pressure from the Israeli government not to allow smuggling of goods into Gaza, and they are also under pressure from Hamas to allow the entry of goods into the troubled area. Suggestions have been made to allow foreign supervision of the crossing, but the Egyptian government “will not allow any foreign observers on its border” but neither will it give into Hamas demands for free movement. President Mubarak has scant interest or support for Hamas and its calls for a never ending war against Israel. “Resistance is not about slogans that belittle the blood of martyrs” recently noted the president.

However, there is also strong sentiment within Egypt for its government to lend support to the people of Gaza by allowing goods to enter. If Egypt takes such a step it will create tension with Israel. At present, the Egyptian government wants some peace and quiet. But, the surest way to achieve such an aim is allowing outside observers to assume some responsibilities for supervising the Rafah crossing.

Hamas – Fatah– Israel And Reality?

There is a moment of respite in Gaza from the air assault which has caused such devastation in the area. Egyptian leaders are working around the clock to persuade Hamas to cooperate not merely with Israel but with its political rival Fatah and the Abbas government which currently directs the Palestinian Authority. A major problem encountered by Egyptian mediators is that while Hamas is willing to participate in a coalition government with Fatah it wants an end to any cooperation with Israel and pursuing the dream of ending the Israeli state. President Abbas and Egyptian leaders consider such an approach to lead only to disaster and the end of any sensible peace.

Fatah leaders want to take advantage of the new Obama administration and work with it to secure a peace that respects Palestinian rights. There is hope Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad will move away from his close ties with Iran and cooperate with Egypt in an effort to bring together Hamas and Fatah.

Egypt Claims Arms Smuggled Into Gaza From Israel!

In a surprising claim from Egyptian sources, its government charges that the majority of weapons being smuggled into Gaza comes from Israeli sources. Mukhis Qutb, of the Egyptian Council for Human Rights, told a newspaper that he has proof many of the weapons being smuggled into Gaza came from individuals who had Israel citizenship. He also alleged some members of the Israel Defense Force were involved in smuggling operations. However, he failed to provide any such evidence to support the claims. These charges undoubtedly are an attempt to prove that Israel actions in Gaza lacked any basis of validity. The overwhelming evidence is that rockets came from Arab sources and were part of the Iranian effort to supply Hamas.

After weeks of pounding Hamas tunnels, there is evidence many are back in operation. One wonders if Israel government officials have ever reconsidered their decision to impose an economic blockade on Gaza. What if no such blockade had ever been put into operation? Would Hamas have place such energy into constructing tunnels?

Once again, Prime Minister Olmert insists there may be more bombing of tunnels. Is his expectation that bombing of tunnels will go on and on forever? How about refocusing on peace and compromise?

Egyptian Journalists Brutalized For Backing Protests

The Egyptian government intends to keep things quiet on its side of the border with Gaza and to avoid any opportunity for those opposing Israel’s attack to show support for Gazans. Eleven reporters who worked with the Hisham Mubarak Center for Human Rights said they were brutality attacked and their cameras smashed for daring to report protests against Egyptian policy toward the Gaza situation. According to the reporters, police assaulted them, shoving and hitting anyone in their way and destroying their cameras and any film they had taken of the protests against Israel’s attack on Gaza. According to Rasha Azab of the Al-Fagr newspaper, “police forces wanted everyone to stay home for days” in order to play down the reality of Egyptian opposition to their government’s policies.

According to Alsaied Al Harany, “we were taking pictures of police forces beating and assaulting protestors and once we were spotted by officers, we were immediately surrounded” and then rounded up to be sent to jail.

President Mubarak made a mistake by not taking an active role in opposing Israel’s actions, all he did was allow the Muslim Brotherhood to become the hero of the masses. It makes more sense to lead the mob rather than allow your opponent to assume that position.

Is Hamas Divided?

Volkhard Windfuhr, reporting from Gaza for the German, Der Spiegel, says a division has a risen among Hamas leaders as to next steps in the conflict with Israel. Some are calling for a decisive battle while others believe they time has come to negotiate and find a way to end the death and destruction being visited upon Gaza residents by the Israel bombing. “The Palestinians are just as tired of this war as the Israelis” and he saw several people walk past Hamas men handing out leaflets urging to fight on and shaking their heads as they inquired about the need for bread and peace.Khaled Meshaal, the head of the militant wing of Hamas who is in Damascus, sent representatives to Cairo seeking an end to fighting. The so-called Cairo Initiative has grown in power as a way to obtain a cease fire.

However, Muhammad Nasr, a militant, spoke with Omar Suleiman, head of Egyptian intelligence and made clear there would not be a cease fire unless Hamas was given control over the Palestine-Egypt border and refused to extend any recognition of Israel. Under the Cairo Initiative, all rocket attacks would cease and the Palestinian government of President Abbas would assume control over border crossings. It also calls for international observers to be stationed at the border crossings but most Hamas leaders are against this idea.

In the world of those who hate Israel and blame it for all problems in the Middle East there is no ability to grasp how Hamas has helped cause the current problems in Gaza. Does this excuse the over-reaction of Israel to Hamas– the answer is no. But, Hamas must assume some responsibility for what happened.

Voiceless And Powerless Egypt

Bombs blast Gaza, Israel soldiers are massed on its borders and Hamas rockets are fired incessantly from its environ, but the Egyptian government is nowhere in sight to help restore peace and calm to the area. Thousands of Egyptians are furious at the Israel assault on Gaza and they may even be allowed to do some shouting or express anger because the Egyptian secret police has thousands in its employ who can shut down most protests. Most probably, a majority of Egyptians want their government to open the Rafah closing in Gaza, but nothing will be done because President Mubarak depends on handouts from Washington in order to keep the semblance of government and an economy operating. George Bush still does not grasp that refusing to allow the Egyptian government to take a stand on Gaza will eventually be disastrous for American foreign policy. What happens when Egyptian fury erupts?

It is not only Gaza which is at risk in Egypt. The health, education, and employment opportunities for the average citizen are tremendously in jeopardy because they don’t exist. In November, Al-Masry al-Youm reported many doctors abandoned their patients to attend Ramadan prayers. The civil society is in the process of collapse and a few more Gazas might well be the final blow that results in an angry explosion of anger.

Egypt Refuses To Open Gaza Crossings

President Hosni Mubarak told the Egyptian people in a televised address that the Rafah border crossing will remain closed until Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas regains control of Gaza. “We in Egypt are not going to contribute to perpetuating the rift (between Hamas and Fatah) by opening the Rafah crossing in the absence of the Palestinian Authority and EU observers in violation of the 2005 deal.” Egypt has been severely criticized across the Arab world for denying Palestinians the right to cross over into Egypt to escape Israel bombing. In Yemen, protestors stormed the Egyptian consulate the destroyed property and demanded action to protect the people of Gaza.

There are reports of protests by Egyptian students against Mubarak’s refusal to open the crossing and end diplomatic relations with Israel. Mubarak is a realist and knows allowing Hamas to gain further power will lead to an explosion of violence that might suck in Egypt and result in war with Israel. He most probably is disgusted with the actions of Hamas in refusing to halt rocket attacks in order to attain peace in the area. For him, Hamas is the region’s worst nightmare since it represents the forces which seek war and destruction.

Egyptian Report On Gaza Bombings

Ibrahim Barzak and Matti Friedman, reporting for the Cairo Daily News, said “Israel’s air force obliterated symbols of Hamas power on the third day of its overwhelming Gaza assault, striking a house next to the Hamas premier’s house, devastating a security compound and flattening a five story building at a university closely linked to the Islamic group.” Over three hundred have died in the bombings and the Hamas rocket attack on Ashkeion resulted in the death of at least one Israeli. “Most of those killed since Saturday were members of Hamas security forces,” but at least 50 were civilians including women and children. Israel planes also attacked a refugee camp near Gaza city and at least three children were killed along with a mother and her child.

The reporters also note planes struck dozens of tunnels through which supplies and arms had been smuggled into Gaza. Syria has suspended indirect peace talks with Israel and the UN Security Council has called on both sides to halt the fighting and asked Israel to allow humanitarian supplies into Gaza since hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties. “the carnage inflamed Arab and Muslim public opinion, setting off street protests in Arab communities in Israel and the West Bank, across the Arab world, and in some European cities.”

We offer this among other perspectives on the Gaza conflict without making any editorial comment.