J'lem relieved at seeming stabilization in Egypt

Barak heads to US amidst concerns of mixed signals from Washington; diplomatic source says US zigzagging on Egyptian unrest creates feeling of insecurity: "If US doesn't know what to do, who's in charge?"

February 8, 2011 23:48
2 minute read.
Anti-Mubarak protesters in Tahrir Square Feb. 8

Huge Egypt Flag 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Defense Minister Ehud Barak left Tuesday for two days of talks in New York and Washington expected to focus on the rapidly changing situation in Egypt, while sources in Jerusalem began expressing relief that it seemed as if Egypt had stepped back from the verge of anarchy.

"Anarchy in Egypt is not good for Egypt, or for us," one official said, adding that it appeared now as if the situation had stabilized a bit and there would be an orderly transition to reform and elections.

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Barak is expected to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York, and with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Washington.

Israeli government sources said that Barak was not going to Washington to give advice to the US on how to deal with the situation in Egypt, and that Israel was not in any position to give the US advice on the matter.

"We have our insights that we share with friends, but we don't give advice," he said.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, at times bucking the international tide, has over the last number of days called for caution in dealing with the Egyptian situation, warning that the upheaval there could lead not to democracy, but rather to Iranian-style tyranny.

Since the crisis began, there has been constant consultation between Jerusalem and Washington, government sources said.

One source said that the zigzagging of US policy on Egypt – from seeming to abandon Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the beginning of the crisis to recognizing now that a quick exit would lead to further chaos – has led to questions about whether the US has a clear policy in the Middle East.

"This creates a feeling of insecurity – that the Americans are not sure what to do," the source said. He said that while in the past the US radiated a sense of purpose when acting in the Middle East – even if one disagreed with their actions – the events of the last two weeks left a feeling that the Administration was not sure how to act.   And if the Americans don't know what to do, he said, then "who is in charge?"

Click here for full Jpost coverage of unrest in Egypt

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