February 24, 2003

EGYPTIAN PRESTIGE?:

Egypt threatens to cut off ties with Palestinian terror groups (Khaled Abu Toameh, Feb. 24, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
Egypt has informed radical Palestinian factions that their refusal to accept a temporary cessation of terrorist attacks against Israel could prompt Cairo to sever its ties with them.

A Palestinian official told The Jerusalem Post Monday that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other extremist groups have earned Egypt's opprobrium after they rejected its latest initiative for a one-year cease-fire with Israel.

"The Egyptians are really angry," the official added. "They see the Palestinian groups' stance as a severe blow to Egypt's credibility and prestige."

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 24, 2003 10:38 PM
Comments

After supporting Palestinian "steadfastness" and terror for two and a half years, Egypt is now upset that the terrorists aren't even willing to state that they are willing to stop their violence temporarily?



This garbage is purely for public consumption.



Egypt has to appear relatively pro-active in the upcoming battle to oust Hussein; and Israel has recently become serious about attacks from Gaza. So Egypt is basically giving Hamas and Islamic Jihad a ladder to climb down.



I expect they'll take it, eventually. Giving themselves time to regroup and re-arm. As though anyone should expect anything else.



Though of course, Egyptian pride is the paramount issue....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at February 25, 2003 2:45 AM

Pride?

Posted by: oj at February 25, 2003 8:00 AM

Well, yes. Pride, prestige.



The kind of pride that says that just because Washington provides Egypt with about 2 billion dollars per annum doesn't mean that Egypt has to kowtow to the American line, etc., etc. The kind of pride that blames everyone else for their problems. The kind of pride that insists on the independence of its judiciary and the freedom of its press. The kind of pride that demands that Israel give up its nuclear arsenal because of the dire threat it poses to regional peace, even while pursuing its own nuclear weapons program.



You know. Pride.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at February 25, 2003 8:19 AM

No, Barry, the $1.8 billion per year in U.S. aid is the issue. Saddam is trying to get the Palestinians to expand the war; Bush is trying to get Arab help to limit it. Egypt has to make at least a show of giving something back for its money.

Posted by: pj at February 25, 2003 8:20 AM

Well yes and no.



Mubarak's latest epiphany (which Robert Fisk hasn't quite understood, in his characteristically "brilliant" Why-are-Arabs-behaving-like-mice article of last week) is a very recent development. As long as Mubarak felt that war with Iraq was preventable, he continued doing the same thing he's been doing for the past two-and-a-half years (that is, no, he was not trying to get the Palestinians to limit their war against Israel).



Once he realized how utterly serious Bush was/is about Saddam, he understood (clever man that he is) that he had better not be on the wrong side. (Arafat too, burned once already by his all-too-vocal support for Iraq, has suddenly been sounding "reaonable"---if being reasonable means thinking about agreeing to appoint a prime minister (who will have no power, anyway, but so what, the good intention is what counts!), or making noises about trying to prevent Hamas from firing Qassam missiles at Israeli communities---but then he always sounds that way when his back is against the wall.)



Your implication, forgive me if I'm mistaken, is that Mubarak has been against Palestinian violence since the "intifada" broke out in September 2000, this, in order to continue to receive US aid. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Up until recently, he was counting on continuing to receive US aid (and in spite of sporadic noises from Congress, he's been right) despite his encouragement of Palestinian terrorism and promotion of virulent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda (the peace agreement with Israel notwithstanding---so what else is new?. Egypt has its pride.)



But screwing around with a determined Bush policy on Iraq is a different issue entirely. And Mubarak knows it.



To imply that he's known this all along, though, is an utter distortion.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at February 25, 2003 10:41 AM

Barry, your last post is nearly identical with my own view. The Egyptian restraint on the Palestinians is new and is the result of Bush administration pressure, driven by the war on Iraq. This is a "you're either with us or against us" moment for the Egyptians. They are trying to avoid landing on the "against us" side.



As you said earlier, the "Egyptian anger" claimed in the story is only for public consumption.

Posted by: pj at February 25, 2003 11:21 AM
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