Egypt and The Israel Factor

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Contributing Writer: Ahmed Salam
The attitude of Egypt’s future regime towards Israel has been a dominant theme on both ends of the commentary spectrum. The Arab masses (as articulated by both Islamic and progressive parties) expect swift action towards the annulment of treaties with Israel or, at the least, severing diplomatic and economic relationships. The Israeli government and ruling elite monitored the situation in evident apprehension weary of what’s to come especially if it was The Brotherhood. The United States government had the same fears (implied most of the time) joined by media pundits such as Walters and Friedman (who, after appearing apprehensive in DAVOS and urging Israel to sign with the Palestinians before the tide turns, opted in the end to embrace the democracy movement at Tahrir and postpone his fear). The Brotherhood spent the 18 days assuring the world of its democratic intent while (deliberately, and for reasons to be highlighted later) skirting the issue of the future relationship with Israel.
Best to look at this issue from the perspective of the newly reborn Egypt. The future government of Egypt is faced with a daunting task: Developing an efficient, self-sustaining, corruption-free economy capable of inviting foreign investment while untangling one of the world’s largest bureaucracies [meaning layoffs and unmasking the masked unemployment]. All of this entails multi-fronted battles and painful measures all being conducted under the gaze of 80 million, now-empowered, most likely impatient, watchful pair of eyes. This is an uphill battle that will deliver all future Egyptian politicians unto the temptation of waiving the “Down-with-Israel” campaign banner. The same banner that was waived by the military dictatorships that got the Arabs here in the first place.
Both (past dictatorships and future democrats) are full of the knowledge that no military solution to the issues with Israel is feasible. The Brotherhood is a stark example. Why would a spokesman dance around the issue of the treaty with Israel knowing full well how handcuffed Egypt’s hand is when it comes to annulment? Surely he was already thinking of future voters. Lacking a clear program of reform or, more accurately, the political will and courage to implement them, all politicians will change the “Israel is the enemy” slogan.
This is all not to say that Egypt will not take a stand against Israeli actions. It is natural for some of the democratic values that have come to the surface in Egypt to clash with Israeli actions. Egypt might also use its weight to tilt the balance of negotiations one way or the other. The overriding imperative will remain, hopefully, on putting Egypt’s house in order.
Written by: Ahmed Salam– Ahmed is a technology consultant; a global citizen who has worked and lived in the Americas and the Middle East.