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Dust off the maps of Sinai

Dust off the maps of Sinai

One of the key supposed foreign policy achievements of the Obama administration is turning into a disaster.

Egypt is quickly devolving into chaos with only bad likely outcomes, as Barry Rubin writes:

Only days before parliamentary elections, Egypt is in a huge crisis whose outcome will determine the future of almost 80 million people and perhaps the Arabic-speaking world’s fate for decades to come.

Will the army go ahead with elections that will be won by the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Salafist groups, thus producing an Islamist regime?

Or will it cancel elections, declare martial law in some form, and set off a passionate civil conflict? …

Despite the persistent mocking of Western officials, media, and “experts” about the Muslim Brotherhood’s weakness and moderation, it has become increasingly apparent that a very radical Muslim Brotherhood will take power and fundamentally transform Egypt into something far worse than that which existed during the six-decades-long Nasser-Sadat-Mubarak regime.

Bruce Thornton at The Heritage Foundation also has written of the approaching Arab Winter:

Finally, the prognosis for liberal democracy is no better in Egypt, the most populous Muslim country in the region. Long gone are the images of the tweeting “Facebook kids” that charmed many in the West into thinking a liberal democracy would arise out of the ashes of Mubarak’s rule. The biggest beneficiary of regime change has been the Muslim Brothers, which is now poised to dominate the forthcoming elections in November given their superior organization and unified aims compared to the more numerous, ideologically fragmented secular parties. Despite the fantasies of many in the United States, the Muslim Brothers have not evolved into “moderates” that can be integrated into a democratic government and restrained by electoral accountability.

This process was set in motion by the incompetence of an Obama administration which insisted that Mubarak leave “yesterday” without any transition planning, and by a smitten media which glorified the “Arab Street,” put its faith in Egyptian yuppies,  and downplayed the Islamist danger.

Very early on in the process, in late January 2011,  I suggested that the Israelis might have to return to Sinai once the non-militarized buffer of the desert established by the 1979 Peace Treaty was laid waste by Egyptian politics.

It will not be next month, maybe not even next year.  But if the trend in Egypt continues, it will be.

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Comments

In Obama’s defense (and it is extremely rare that I defend him), he was getting beat up for not weighing in on the side of the protestors. My take was this would end up like Iran. (I expect Libya will do so, too, and Syria if it falls).

The basic problem is the protestors in favor of actual democracy do not have the clout or political experience to carry on after the ruler falls.

Israel’s occupying Sinai would be a bridge too far. As long as Sinai is not militarized by Egypt, it continues to be a crucial buffer for Israel. And an Israeli move against Sinai would trigger a war.

However, if I were an Israeli leader, I would seriously consider reoccupying Gaza and driving out Hamas. The rationale for Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza rested on the assumption that it would eliminate a burden while posing no added security threat. The Hamas takeover undermined but did not negate this rationale. Hamas-run Gaza could still be isolated and infuriating as periodic rocket attacks on Israel might be, the threat was not strategic or grave.

But the isolation of Gaza depended on Egyptian cooperation. Once Egypt permits the free flow of goods and people into Gaza, or even throws some support to Hamas, Gaza becomes a far more serious matter.

How right the Lubavitcher Rebbe was to warn against the Camp David treaty. It has brought no benefit at all to Israel, only trouble, including the American money to which Israel has become addicted.

If Egypt re-militarizes Sinai it would be a violation of the 1979 peace treaty and a de facto if not de jure declaration of war. I don’t see how Israel could overlook such a provocation. But the war that would ensue would be terrible considering the forces in Gaza, Southern Lebanon and Iran’s growing missile force.

The cost for defeating a prepared Egypt would likely be enormous, both militarily and politically.

If Egypt re-militarizes Sinai it would be a violation of the 1979 peace treaty and a de facto if not de jure declaration of war.

Egypt has been in violation of the treaty since the day it was signed, but Israel has too much invested in it to call them on it. And the reality is that Egypt can remilitarise it at any moment, just as they did in ’67. The ’56 agreement didn’t stop them, so why would the ’79 one? And the “observers” would of course get the hell out, just as U Thant’s ones did in ’67. And yes, a war in the Sinai will be no walk in the park. It will be very difficult and there’s no guaranteeing the outcome. But if Israel has to conquer the Sinai for a third time, then it should be made permanent, and if anyone including the USA objects they should be told to go jump in the sea.

At Sharam-a-Sheikh, nachzo-or elayich shlishit…

    WarEagle82 in reply to Milhouse. | November 24, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    I suspect a re-militarization of the Sinai would be crossing that proverbial line in the sand. I don’t see how Israel could ignore such a provocation from a militant, fundamentalist, Islamic government.

      Milhouse in reply to WarEagle82. | November 24, 2011 at 10:56 pm

      But the Security Council will surely support Egypt, on the grounds both that the Sinai is sovereign Egyptian territory and that they should not be held to a treaty signed by an unelected government and that was always opposed by a vast majority of Egyptians. An Israeli attack on Egypt would thus be seen and condemned as aggression and who’s to say Obama wouldn’t see it as his duty to enforce this resolution?

        WarEagle82 in reply to Milhouse. | November 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm

        Obama may not support Israel should war erupt over Sinai. Obama has the most inept and least coherent foreign policy ever.

        But Israel will do what it needs to survive and that also has serious implications for America if Israel believes it faces an existential threat…

Professor, you certainly enjoy casting blame. So what do you propose the United States ought to do?

The people of Egypt have spoken. They do not want Mubarak, a dictator! Unless, of course, Professor, you subscribe to the lesser of two evils approach–an authoritarian ruler was “better” than Islamic fundamentalists at the helm of the government. Right!

So, let the Egyptians decide, as free people, who they want in power. It’s NONE of our business, unless you think, Professor, that it is a matter of national security. You certainly enjoy casting blame by saying it’s Obama’s fault.

So what do you propose the United States ought to do?

International pressure to force the Egyptian people to install a more “desirable” government?

Regime change via military involvement on the part of the United States?

Come on, Professor, provide us with your wisdom.

    William A. Jacobson in reply to anti-neocon. | November 24, 2011 at 8:05 am

    If it was none of our business, then we should not have forced Mubarak out and should have left events to run their course. If it was enough of our business to get involved and force Mubarak out, then we should have done so in a manner which provided a proper transition which provided non-Islamist forces sufficient time to organize. The current trajectory is an Islamist government which breaches the peace treaty with Israel and sparks war, in addition to the subjugation of Egyptian civil society. Nice that you are happy with that result.

    WarEagle82 in reply to anti-neocon. | November 24, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    And what are we to do when after they elect the Muslim Brotherhood, change their minds and find out their “Bros” won’t leave when their term is up? The people of Gaza have already discovered this little problem since Hamas won’t hold elections…

    Putting democratic trappings on a different dictatorship doesn’t make a democracy.

    The sad fact is, at this point, there is probably nothing we can do to prevent another fundamentalist dictatorship in Egypt thanks to Obama’s stupidity and ineptitude. But we will eventually have to face the consequences of that stupidity and ineptitude. We are eventually going to get involved. And it will be very messy and likely very bloody. Reality sucks for everybody when leftists ignore reality…

Professor, you are simply repeating your initial post and choosing not to address the questions I posed.

The United States did NOT force Mubarak out, the Egyptian people and its military did. The public sentiment against him reached a crescendo. The military, faced with ousting him or resorting to protecting an unpopular leader, facilitated his resignation. Maintaining the status quo was NOT an option given the WILL OF THE PEOPLE. Remember that phrase you learned in government class? What, Egyptians cannot make their own “proper decisions” without American involvement?

So, how was keeping the autocratic Mubarak in power until the end of his term a matter of American national security?

So, how was working behind the scenes to establish a transitionary government to replace Mubarak before his term ended a matter of American national security?

Even if the United States let events run their course in Egypt, we do not know what would have resulted. What, are you a soothsayer, professor?

Yes, there could be clashes between the military and the citizenry. There also exists the possibility that the military and its citizens will work out a deal in which there are free elections and the people decide who they want to be in power. It is THEIR decision. They can elect a goat if they want to. It is NOT the business of the United States to become involved in the internal affairs of a country unless we are asked. It is apparent you do not “trust” the Egyptian people to do the “right” thing. How American of you!

“The current trajectory is an Islamist government which breaches the peace treaty with Israel and sparks war.”

Speculation on your part. We do not know what will happen next. It is possible, but not probable. You must hold Chicken Little in high regard.

The question remains, what do you propose the United States ought to do right now to avoid that from happening assuming there is a civil war within Egypt?

International pressure to force the Egyptian people to install a more “desirable” government?

Regime change via military involvement on the part of the United States to ensure that Muslim extremists do not gain control of the government?

Assume the transitionary government brokered by the military is one unsatisfactory to the Egyptian people? How do you propose the United States handle that situation? Diplomacy? War?

Assume the Islamic Brotherhood does gain control of the Egyptian government? How do you propose the United States handle that situation? Diplomacy? War?

Again, Professor, enlighten us!

    William A. Jacobson in reply to anti-neocon. | November 24, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I know a troll when I see one. The old “you didn’t answer my question you just repeated what you already said” ploy. And endless circle in which you get airtime and waste my time. Bye-bye. Take it to Kos.

    WarEagle82 in reply to anti-neocon. | November 24, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Ultimately, we will have to confront a militant, fundamentalist, Islamic dictatorship in Egypt. It is simply a matter of time. The fact that you don’t recognize or like reality is ultimately your problem…

I am not a troll and not a Kos reader, just a moderate to conservative American who found your blog from other sources I read, chose to make a comment, and then was banned for having an alternative point of view.

Do you not encourage your students to ask questions in your courses? Do you not encourage your students to challenge other people’s ways of thinking? If you do not, then extend the same courtesy to everyone.

Or, heaven forbid, do you tell your students when their positions run counter to your own that they are “an endless circle” and “a waste of time”? If you do not, then extend the same courtesy to everyone.

See, that is the problem with righties and lefties who embrace such a narrow mindedness as to summarily dismiss any and all comments that do not fit into their worldview.

wareagle82–What does confronting mean to you? It is a fair question to ask. Does that mean American diplomatic pressure or American military involvement?

    William A. Jacobson in reply to seriously. | November 25, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    “a moderate to conservative American who found your blog from other sources I read.” Really? What sources would that be. The left-wing anti-Scott Walker blog for which you posted links in the comment section when you originally showed up here back in July? I didn’t ban you because of your “alternative point of view,” there is plenty of dissent here and plenty of criticism of me, but because you have become a troll, and now you are pretending to be something you are not. Bye-bye, again.

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