WHAT’S COOKING IN EGYPT?
The results of elections appears to be universal. Candidates kiss babies, grin, wave, and promise everything from taking care of your old age to rejuvenating the country, And what happens? The week after the elcction when the dancing in the streets is done, the politicans get down to business and it’s nothing like they promised.
Today, the politicians in Egypt are getting down to business. The dust is clearing and the squeeze is on. What does it mean? Well, there’s good news and bad news.
Egypt’s new president Mohamed Morsi fired the military’s chief of staff and just threw out one of the major provisions that the military imposed on the government. Will Morsi’s actions stick? Hard to say. The military will probably wait and see what comes next. Morsi has definitely taken a major step forward in asserting the power of his office and propelling himself into an authoriative position over the military. How long he can prevail is a “wait and see” proposition. After it’s said and done, the military has the bullets and are well positioned to resist.
On the other hand, the most radical ideals of the Moslem Brotherhood don’t seem to be materializing. As is generally true of politicans, Mohamed Morsi has come face-to-face with political realities and that produces compromise. Morsi has made some of his own adjustments that involve backing away from some of his campaign promises. On of these compromises appears to be dropping the idea of changing the peace treaty with Israel. Such an adaptation takes a step toward a more peaceful Middle East.
In addition, recent visits by Secretary Hillary Clinton and Defense Secrerary Leon Penetta seem to be paying off in an unexpected way. In a recent blog, I noted Clinton got a nasty reception from Cairo demonstrators. However, she did come down on the side of constitutional government which put her on Morsi’s side in that struggle. During the visit, she warned of security issues in the Sinai and offered American help. Subsequently, terrorist gunmen in the Sinai attacked Egyptian border posts and comandeered two military vehicles used to storm the Israeli border. The unanticipated attacks deeply shook Morsi’s government. Morsi’s response is now viewed as an important test of the nascent presidency.
Indicating a renewned confidence in the United States, Egypt has now accelerated talks about American assistance in protecting the Sinai, including acquiring military equipment with electronic and aerial surveilance as well as police training. The American State Department warned that the Sinai is being used as a base for smuggling arms into Gaza for Palestinian extremists. Moreover, the USA has 700 American soliders in the Sinai as part of an international peacekeeping force in the area. Secretary Clinton expressed concern about the welfare of these American troops. While Egypt has always been sensitive about American direct involvment in its security, they do receive $1.5 billion dollars a year in assistance.
Egyptian troops, light tanks, attack helicopters are now pouring into the Sinai desert to root out the increasingly agressive Islamic militants. Egypt’s military action reflects a key provision of the l979 peace treaty which promised the demilitarization of the Sinai peninsula. Egypt’s push to secure the border is an important step indicating a continuing alliance with both America and Israel.
Morsi’s govenment’s actions seems to indicate the train may be back on the track in terms
of American and Israeli relationships. The next question is where the train is actually going.
Question: Is it possible for Egypt to come out of the current struggle in better shape than was previously thought?