Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

If the Catastrophe is Repeated.. What Position Will Cairo Take? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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I read articles relating how Hamas changed history with the recent popular “rising” that crossed the borders and forced Egypt to change its stand and in the process changed the entire political equation in the region.

I agree that it changed things, but in the opposite direction. Hamas probably gained the Syrians and Iranians but lost the Egyptians, who are the more important, because it complicated their internal and external calculations and subjected Egypt to an uncalculated danger.

To clarify my viewpoint, I will place it within the context of comparison. The Palestinians are banned from firing from Lebanon under an international watch and Lebanese guards backed by a popular Lebanese consensus. The Palestinians are also banned from firing a single bullet from Syria on Israel. They are banned from doing the same thing from Jordan. If these three countries openly ban the Palestinian factions from embroiling them in confrontations with Israel, then Egypt is expected to feel the same danger. Gaza, in its contemporary history and adjacent geographical location, is reckoned to be important for Egypt and its security. The Israelis complain that Egypt is playing with fire by its covert support for Hamas.

If this is true, then why?

Egypt most certainly does not agree with many of Hamas ‘s actions yet believes that the movement is an important part of the Palestinian equation which should not be ignored and wants good relationship with it in order to solve the multidimensional Palestinian problem.

The Israelis believe that Cairo backs Hamas, despite its suspicions of the Muslim Brotherhood [MB] to which the movement belongs, in order to pressure Israel constantly and hold the threads of the game. In reply to Cairo, unofficial warnings came from Tel Aviv advocating settling some Palestinians in Sinai, similar to the Palestinian camps in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. It is not difficult for us to understand Israel’s desire to export the problem to Egypt because it wants the latter to be a party in the crisis and not just in the solution.

But it is the dangerous actions of Hamas that are hard to justify. With its futile rockets, the movement made Israel blockade Gaza and turn it into a disaster area and pushed the population toward the Egyptian borders for the same purpose. Practically, Hamas and Israel conspired against Egypt for totally different reasons. I believe that the disaster will be repeated. Hamas will bombard, Israel will attack, the Palestinians will flee toward Egypt, and the crisis becomes bigger. As it happened in Lebanon and Jordan, Egypt will be forced to intervene and I expect it to restore the Palestinian Authority [PA] to Gaza.

Hamas must remember that, as an MB movement, it would not have governed anywhere else in the Arab world were it not for the PA which accepted it in order to unite the Palestinian rank. The irony is that Hamas split the rank and expelled Fatah. Once again, Hamas designed the recent crisis so as to impose its calculations on Egypt and everyone without making any concession. It rejects the demands of the PA in Ramallah, refuses to hold early elections, wants to bombard Israel, and at the same time cries over the blockade and asks the Egyptians to pay the price.

The solution is supposed to start firstly with patching up the Palestinian problem. Hamas must return to the PA on the conditions set out by Abu-Mazin: Recognition of the PA’s components, agreements, and powers. If Hamas does not accept this, then it must return the rule keys to Fatah and go back to the opposition. In any case, Egypt will find itself compelled to do what Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon had done before it to protect their borders and security if the disaster is repeated.