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How Did Egypt Fall Into the Trap? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Instead of shedding light on the Israeli siege on Gaza, the suffering of its people as a result of Israeli brutality and how Hamas’s catastrophic policies have only led to more suffering, Egypt has been thrown into the eye of the hurricane on both the Arab and international levels.

Instead of regarding Egypt as a key to solving the crisis, considering all its historical and political weight, the country has been embroiled in a crisis at the hands of Hamas.

Egypt’s sternness regarding the closure of the Rafah border crossing will cause it to be perceived as an accomplice to Israel in besieging the Palestinians; however, opening the crossing will implicate it with the international community as it would implicitly mean that Egypt accepts Ismael Haniyah’s government. Therefore, Hamas, led by Khaled Meshaal, has imposed the present reality upon Cairo without rectifying its coup.

This is why Egypt is now trapped; because Hamas decided to escape by moving forward and elevating international pressure from Israel by embroiling Egypt. It imposed a reality of Egyptian-Palestinian confrontation instead of Palestinian-Israeli confrontation; today, the whole world is more concerned about the crisis of the Rafah crossing and Egypt than about the [Israeli] siege on Gaza.

On 26 January 2008, Khaled Meshaal told Asharq Al-Awsat, “Opening the Rafah crossing was a healthy step but we need to make it more complete since it is not about a commercial season for the people of Gaza or a sale that is being held for a few days. It is unfair to deprive and starve the people of Gaza.” It is as if the Egyptians, rather than Hamas’s incorrect policies, are the cause of the Palestinians to this fate.

Meshaal then added (and this is the most dangerous part): “The time has come for there to be an Egyptian-Palestinian crossing and we should not restrict ourselves to the international treaty related to this issue. It is time that we bring this treaty to an end. As I have said before, the book has been closed on many treaties especially when they are unfair.”

Implicitly, this puts the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty in real danger and this, in turn, could lead Egypt once again into conflict with Israel.

There is an important question to be asked: If the Rafah crossing was arranged according to what Khaled Meshaal wants, would Hamas then cease launching missiles at Israel and in the process making it the guardian of the Hebrew state? And if it did launch a single missile on Israel, who could guarantee that a new war would not erupt between Egypt and Israel? It seems that we are in the third stage of the catastrophe that is the management of the Palestinian issue; after Jordan and Beirut, the issue will reach Egypt.

However, was the embroilment and ambushing of Egypt an accident? Absolutely not! Hamas has entangled the Arab countries that are concerned with dealing with the Palestinian issue and preventing it from becoming an Iranian-Syrian playing card. There was a state of confusion in dealing with the Hamas issue since the case is not confined to Hamas alone; rather, it involves those who support it. Hamas could carry out political roles that could topple the legitimate Palestinian Authority and put the Arab countries in a difficult political position. Either the major Arab countries follow the movement or else Hamas will embroil these countries and bleed them dry by escalating the number and level of crises.

What Hamas is doing nowadays is not very different from what Hezbollah is doing in Lebanon. The trap that Egypt has been pushed towards is the same trap that has been set up for Saudis since the 9/11 attacks in New York. The magnitude of harm that has been inflicted upon Saudi Arabia by some Arab countries is much graver than what Riyadh has faced from the West, especially the use of terrorism and terrorists to tarnish the reputation of Saudis.

The main objective is to weaken the authority of moderate Arab countries vis-à-vis the rise in the role of movements that are backed by foreign parties. This, indeed, is a dangerous matter that should not be overlooked. Likewise, the issue of embroiling Egypt is one that should not be underestimated and there should not be calls to live with this situation. This is the truth that should be stated.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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