Is US Egyptian Policy Just An Israel Policy In A Galabiya? – OpEd


By Philip Weiss

The lead story in yesterday’s Times was titled “U.S. Urges Egypt to let Civilians Govern Quickly” and was about a new stance by the Obama administration pressuring Tantawi and the SCAF to get out of the way of the Egyptian people.

Well nine times in that piece, reporter Helene Cooper states what the American government cares about most, the treaty with Israel. In fact, the last word in the article is Israel.

Here are the nine references, starting with the second paragraph:

the Egyptian military which, perhaps more than any other entity in the region, has for 30 years served as the bulwark protecting a critical American concern in the Middle East: the 1979 Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel….

the beginning of a shift in how the United States deals with a fast-changing Arab region and tries to preserve the Egypt-Israel peace accord.

…— the Islamists — who might not be as wedded to the peace treaty as the military,” Mr. Indyk said. [Martin Indyk, Israel supporter, former ambassador]

The Obama administration appears now to be openly hedging its bets, trying to position the United States in such a way that regardless of who comes out on top — the army or the protesters — it will still maintain some credibility, and ability, to influence the government and ensure a level of stability in Egypt, and to continue to uphold the Egyptian-Israeli peace deal, which the United States views as central to stability in the region as a whole….

For more than 30 years, the United States has viewed the Egyptian military as the safeguard of the Camp David peace accord that was signed by Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat in 1979. When President Obama broke with Mr. Mubarak this year, administration officials at the same time sought assurances that the Egyptian military would guide the transition to democracy and continue to uphold the treaty.

Since then, Egyptian democracy advocates and the country’s opposing political parties, including the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, have mostly indicated that they, too, would continue to uphold the treaty, albeit with some possible modifications, like the number of troops in the Sinai.

But there remains uncertainty over whether a new civilian Egyptian government will be as wedded to the treaty as the Egyptian military has been, which is why the administration has trod so carefully in Egypt. ..

Of all of the countries undergoing tumult in the Middle East this year, there is none more central to American interests than Egypt. …

Egypt is different. “In terms of the weight of any single country, Egypt outweighs them all,” said Rob Malley, program director for the Middle East and North Africa with the International Crisis Group. “The reason why is because of its size, its population, the historical role its played in influencing Arab public opinion, and, of course, from the U.S. point of view, because of its peace agreement with Israel.”

It makes me wonder, is the self-determination of the 85 million Egyptian people less important than the maintenance of a Jewish-majority state and Jewish government in Israel. Yes. Were decades of Egyptian dictatorship worth it to preserve Israel? I guess so. Is this really the relationship we want with the Arab world?

And no I don’t like instability. I want peaceful transition. But what if the Egyptian people hate the Gaza siege and hate the occupation? What if they want to isolate Israel further? These could be good things. They could hasten freedom in Palestine, whose oppression afflicts the world.


Mondoweiss is a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, chiefly from a progressive Jewish perspective. Mondoweiss is maintained by Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz. Weiss lives in New York state and Horowitz lives in New York City.

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