Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Why doesn’t Egypt defend Gaza militarily? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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I don’t think that millions of Arabs today accept the statements of sympathy, symbolic field visits, and diplomatic activities that are being showcased to address the aggression on Gaza.

Yet if Egypt decided to defend Gaza in a military fashion, perhaps the political equitation would be entirely different, even if it wasn’t victorious. What’s more, this wouldn’t have to be a major war.

The visit paid by [Egyptian Prime Minister] Hisham Qandil to Gaza was no more politically valuable than those conducted by the late Omar Suleiman, the former head of Egyptian intelligence during the Mubarak era. Qandil’s statements of condemnation do not scare Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, who launched the attack for electoral purposes and to challenge the new Egyptian regime. He wants to determine Egypt’s limits on the ground and to clarify the boundaries of the relationship between the two states.

The truth is that Hamas has been extremely disciplined and has honored the commitments it has made to Israel. Of course it responded to the latest Israeli act of aggression, and to the military provocations over the past few months, but Hamas has also done its utmost to prevent and pursue extremist Salafi jihadist groups, which have deliberately launched missiles or attempted to cross the border into Israel.

It is clear from recent statements that Israel holds Hamas responsible for the actions of these uncontrolled jihadist groups. Most of the attacks from the Israeli side, sometimes aerial bombardments, have been aimed at Hamas and not at the rogue groups that are a threat not only to Israel but to Hamas itself.

Therefore, it is clear that Israel is using its latest aggression for purposes that have nothing to do with responding to threats or protecting its territory. It is a military operation purely for political reasons.

I believe that President Mohammed Mursi knows that this time the war on Gaza is primarily directed at him and not at Haniyeh’s government. Israel wants to ensure his obedience from the outset and embarrass him before his citizens and the Arabs, who are watching and wondering what the difference between him and Mubarak is. Sending messages, dispatching officials and withdrawing ambassadors were the weapons that Mubarak used to show solidarity with the Palestinians. What will Mursi’s tactics be to stop the Israeli aggression?

We always say that when an opposition movement is on the street it is more vocal and outspoken than the government, but when it assumes office it conforms to certain parameters, and this is exactly what is happening with Mursi.

Ever since it came to power, Mursi’s government has dealt with diplomatic norms in a civilized and harmonious manner, and has shown its commitment to the legacy of the Camp David Accords and other agreements. In this respect, it has outdone any previous government. President Mursi has closed the tunnels that were used to smuggle arms into Gaza. Of course, there is neither any logic nor truth in the assertion that closing these tunnels will protect Sinai from weapons and fighters infiltrating from Gaza. Sinai is the passage and Gaza is the destination, or the downstream. Egyptian forces have also waged the largest military confrontation in Sinai since 1973, only this time against Egyptian extremists and jihadist groups that threaten both Israel and Egypt’s security. As long as Mursi remains committed to the Camp David agreement, he is obliged to do so.

Yet despite all this evidence, the Netanyahu government has failed to respect the new Egyptian regime and has deliberately embarrassed Mursi on several occasions, most recently with the attack on Gaza, which is, in fact, partially an attack on Egypt.

Does Egypt dare get involved in a war with Israel? Personally, I think the question should be reversed: Does Israel risk opening a military front with Egypt?