A few weeks back I started writing a piece titled: ” Does civilization’s future rest in its cradle?” This title was based on the theory that the best hope at stopping the growth of Islamic fanaticism would possibly be Egypt’s ability to reassert itself in the region and use power and influence to mobilize forces against Islamic extremism. I never finished that article and changed the title because there are a lot more factors to consider.
Egypt’s involvement in cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas is certainly a good thing. It represents a legitimate desire for peace and stability in the region, something Egypt has learned the benefit of over the years. Also, as opposed to when the Muslim Brotherhood was sitting in power in Cairo, this is a government not aligned with Hamas and one that is just as opposed to lifting the critical Naval blockade of Gaza as Israel is, at least as long as Hamas is in power. Egypt’s current government, which seems to represent a large portion of its population, is very strongly opposed to the Islamic extremism sweeping across parts of the region. Together with Israel, the nation most threatened by the extremists, Egypt is determined to see a more moderate Middle East.
The concern here is the potential power this gives Egypt, specifically over Israel. The Israeli government finds itself in a situation in which it must be aware of Egypt’s standing in the region and on the global stage. Prime Minister Netanyahu will of course continue to make decisions that first and foremost address Israel’s best interests and security, but he is also aware that a strong and credible Egypt not only helps Israel, but contributes to the stability of the entire region. If presented with a questionable proposal, but one that allows Egypt to broker a peace deal, Israel may find itself between a rock and a hard place. On one side any deal that represents compromise may hurt Israel, but on the other hand undermining Egypt’s attempt to assert itself will hurt Israel, not only in the short-term but in the long-term as well. It’s a very delicate diplomatic situation and one to be watched closely.
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