Why doesn’t Egypt defend Gaza militarily?
PERSONALLY, I don’t think that millions of Arabs today accept the statements of sympathy, field-visit parades and diplomatic activity that are being showcased to address the aggression on Gaza.
Yet if Egypt decided to defend Gaza militarily, perhaps the political equitation would have been entirely different (even if it didn’t win). What’s more, this wouldn’t have to be a major war.
The visit Qandil paid to Gaza is not more politically significant than that of the late Omar Suleiman, head of the Egyptian intelligence during Mubarak era. The statements of condemnation don’t scare Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, who launched the attack for electoral purposes and challenged the new Egyptian regime for the purpose of determining the balance of power of their relations and to define its limits on the ground (since, let’s not forget, there is a peace treaty between the two countries).
The truth is that Hamas exercised self-restraint and honored the commitments it made to Israel. It did not refrain from responding to the latest Israeli aggression, and military provocations over the past few months, yet Hamas had done its utmost to prevent and chase extremist Salafist and jihadist groups who deliberately launched missiles or tried to send some of its members to cross the borders into Israel.
It is clear from recent statements that Israel holds Hamas responsible for the actions of those unrestrained groups. Most of the bombings from the Israeli side (sometimes aerial bombardments) were aimed at Hamas and not at those rogue groups that are a threat not to Israel but to Hamas itself.
Therefore, it is clear that Israel uses this aggression for purposes that have nothing to do with responding to threats or protecting its territory. Its military action is only for political reasons.
Personally, I think that the government of President Muhammad Mursi knows that this time, the war on Gaza is primarily directed at him and not at Haniyeh’s government. Israel wants to make him an obedient leader from the outset and embarrass him before his citizens and the Arabs who are watching and wondering what is the difference between him and Mubarak. Sending messages, dispatching officials and withdrawing ambassadors were the weapons that Mubarak used to show solidarity with the Palestinians. What shall be Mursi’s tactics to stop the aggression of Israel?
I would say, in fact, that when the opposition is still a street fighter, it succeeds in bringing forth pressing issues much more than government, yet when it finds its way into office, it conforms to the parameters of action therein and this is exactly what is happening in the case of Mursi.
Since in office, Mursi’s government has dealt with diplomatic norms in a civilized and harmonious manner and has shown its commitment to the legacy of Camp David and other agreements. In fact, it has outdone any previous government. It has closed the tunnels that were the source of weapons flooding into Gaza. Of course, there is neither any logic nor truth in the assertions that the closing of the tunnels is to protect Sinai from arms and fighters flowing from Gaza. Sinai is the passage and Gaza is the destination, the downstream.
Egyptian forces have waged the biggest military confrontation since 1973 in Sinai, only this time it was against Egyptian extremists, jihadist groups that threaten both Israel’s and Egypt’s security. As long as it is committed to the Camp David agreement, it is bound to do so.
Despite all the evidence, the Netanyahu government has not respected the new Egyptian regime but has deliberately embarrassed Mursi on several occasions, most recently the attack of its forces on Gaza, which is, in fact, partially an attack on Egypt.
Does Egypt dare get involved in a war with Israel? Personally, I think the question should be reversed. Does Israel risk opening a military front with Egypt?
The odds are that the Netanyahu government would fall immediately even if it weren’t defeated. Otherwise, mediators would make for a new platform for the Israel-Egypt relations.