By Dick Roberts
The Egyptian Foreign Minister’s ( Sameh Shoukry) visit to Israel last month ( 7/10) probably came as a surprise to many. Understandably so as over the 37 years since the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty was signed, the formal agreement has not trickled into public consciousness in Egypt, and that there still exists considerable suspicion on both sides. The same might be said of the peace between Israel and Jordan which was signed nearly 25 years ago.
Under the Muslim Brotherhood’s ( Mohamed Morsi) short reign following the ouster of Mubarak , relations between Israel and Egypt reached a 35 year low as Morsi struck up a cozy relationship with Iran , and began helping Hamas which had become an Iran’s proxy ( along with Lebanese Hezbollah) in its fight to eliminate Israel.
Sameh Shoukry ‘s presence in Israel indicates that the icy peace between Israel and Egypt, signed by Begin and Sadat in 1979, is thawing, and this could be the beginning of their establishing legitimate, full up bilateral relations .
At regional level , Egypt plays a central role in the Sunni Arab States anti-Iran Coalition which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE. If it did nothing else , the so-called “Arab Spring” brought to the fore the confrontation between Shi’ite Iran and the Sunni Arab countries. The Sunnis see themselves defending against Iranian aggression in Syria, Iraq , Lebanon and Yemen. Under the circumstances any kind of cooperation between Egypt and Israel is noteworthy as it could be a harbinger broadening relations with Israel with other Arab states as well. Hope springs eternal !
So we watch Egypt’s rapprochement with Israel ( and Russia ) expand while Obama ‘ s cold shoulder toward both Egypt and Israel grows ever colder. Our current administration has become a laughing stock in the Middle East . Folks there joke that is far better for a country to be America’s enemy than its ally as it will then spend unlimited amounts to woo you , and it seems never to have met an enemy it does not like. We witness this even now as the Iranians proceed with developing ballistic missiles to carry nuke weapons ( a violation of Obama’s Agreement) and use the money we paid them ( $1.7 B so far) to buy weapons ( S-300 AD missile system from Russia to protect their primary nuke fuel enrichment facility ) and to support their proxies ( Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqi Shiite Militias, etc) throughout the region.
In the Sinai Peninsula, Hamas and its collaboration with ISIS brings Israel and Egypt closer together. At its inception Hamas was the Palestinian branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood whose avowed purpose was and is to spread Islamism across the globe to include the USA ( 1991 Charter specifies) where they have several under cover agencies that have penetrated our institutions ( including the Exec Branch). Need I even mention what ISIS is trying to do? Same thing but with different tactics. Most interesting though is that sources indicate that the IDF has been providing intel to Egyptian forces fighting ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula.
Shoukry’s visit to Jerusalem also sent a signal to the Palestinian Authority ( Abbas) to lower its expectations for narrative support . The traditional Arab narrative used to bamboozle their dissatisfied populace by pointing at Israel has clearly begun to change. Iran is replacing Israel in the narrative. Of course that will not be the case with the hard core Sunnis ( Hamas, ISIS, al Nusra, AQ, Islamic Jihad) whose Quranic based beliefs will over ride 21st Century realpolitik.
Like it or not at some point the Sunni Arab State Coalition might be wise to allow Israel into their trenches as they face off against the Iranian Shiite Jihad and internecine Sunni extremists as well . It’s a very slow drip but its moving that way , but as always I can not see any real solution without a reformation within Islam, one that castes out the dogma that drives Islamic Imperialism, both brands – Sunni and Shiite. As I say hope springs eternal ……