Egypt, or more concretely Mubarak’s regime is on the verge of exhaustion. After Gaza its credibility and legitimacy are at the minimum, at least among Arabs. Other players (see two posts below) are competing in better terms than Cairo for interfering in regional issues. The next Egyptian presidential elections will be critical for the survival of the regime. But even if Mubarak’s legacy does not survives, what is at stake is way more important: is its historical role as regional negotiator, its main savoir faire. I will be posting a deeper analysis at Fundacion Alternativas(http://www.falternativas.org/ ) soon about this subject.
Egypt: Why key US ally in Mideast peace is weakerBy Sarah A. Topol, Christian Science MonitorCAIRO – With renewed promises of revitalizing Middle East peace negotiations, US envoy George Mitchell is due in Beirut today – the first stop of his inaugural 2010 regional tour. But a key ally in his efforts, Egypt, has gotten off to a bad start in the New Year, further complicating American interests.
While Egypt’s pressure on Hamas has backed the Islamist movement into a corner, it has also inflamed Palestinian anger by doing so – and thus weakened Egypt’s power as a regional negotiator.
The US has long hoped that Egypt would prove a key intermediary in bringing about Israeli-Palestinian peace. But Egypt has a poor relationship with Hamas, the Palestinian organization that controls the Gaza strip, and its recent effort to beef up its border fence with Gaza has backed Hamas into a corner and inflamed wider Palestinian anger against Egypt.
As a consequence, many Palestinians see Egypt as an ally of the US and Israel. The country’s ability to act as an honest broker has been weakened as a consequence.
The problem is that Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most popular and powerful opposition movement. The regime of President Hosni Mubarak has been almost as eager as Israel for the Islamist movement to fail in Gaza, for fear it could encourage more Egyptians to support the brothers. But Egypt remains eager to hang on to its role as a perceived potential peace-maker since that inflates its importance to the US, which provides it with $2 billion in aid each year.
“The only paper or card which the Egyptian foreign policy can talk to Americans and say that we are very important in any process in the region is the ‘Palestinian card’…. It’s the only card with which we can play,” says Emad Gad at the Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank funded by the Egyptian government .