Arab countries are foundering, as a jihadi Islamic caliphate is strengthening its hold in the heart of the Middle East.
The West seems intent on venting its frustrations on Israel, which is defending itself against Hamas, another radical Islamist group; Egypt is also feeling the brunt of it. Yet only a few years ago, Cairo was leading the charge of pragmatic Arab states backed by the US, fighting extremist Shi’ites under Iranian leadership.
However, this was before Washington jettisoned Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak and started direct talks with Tehran on Iran’s nuclear program, a move seen as a betrayal by Saudi Arabia.
Today, Egypt is trying to broker a peace between Israel and Hamas; President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on his allies for advice and international support. First he went to see Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah in Jeddah, then Russian President Vladmir Putin in Sochi. He did not go to Washington, which has yet to accept the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood and the new regime.
Indeed, dialogue between Egypt and the US is tense and strained. Attempts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to further the Turkish-Qatar blueprint for a ceasefire in Gaza along the lines of Hamas demands angered Cairo, which had reduced its diplomatic representations in both countries because of their support for the Brotherhood.
The fact is that today the US has no ally in the Middle East, having deserted or offended every Arab country in the region. Yet had the White House openly sided with Israel and Egypt, it would have sent Hamas the clear message that its aggression would not be tolerated.
Absent this message, Hamas feels vindicated. Why should it content itself with what is on offer and accept a cease-fire, when it feels it holds all the cards? It is not concerned with the loss of human life, or the devastation brought on to its civilian population; after all, Israel is being blamed and increasingly isolated. Hamas can afford to wait.
There is no support for Israel in the UN or EU, which should have been the natural ally of the Jewish state in its battle against terror. Hamas can only rejoice when its sees Great Britain proclaiming that should the fighting start anew, it would declare an embargo on weapons for Israel – with no consideration as to which side started the fighting.
Hamas could never have dreamed of such fantastic international success, that the West would abandon Israel and let anti-Semitism go on the rampage.
Hamas is a radical Islamic movement founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, with the express purpose of destroying Israel and establishing on the ruins of the Jewish state an Islamic state, which will go on fighting until it has restored a caliphate in the entire Middle East.
Fighting the Jews and Israel is one of the basic tenets of the Brotherhood, which has woken up dormant enmity towards the Jewish people in Islam and transformed it into a virulent ideology – manifesting itself through incitement and pogroms against the Jews before World War II, and sending volunteers to fight against Israel in 1948. Unfortunately, the West has yet to realize that Hamas today is using the Palestinian problem and spouting fake nationalistic slogans in order to further its aims. It has worked well enough, and many Palestinians voted for the movement in the 2005 elections.
Yet Hamas does not speak of creating an independent Palestinian state – which would be an indirect way of recognizing Israel. It instead keeps harping on the message that it is fighting “occupation,” a word encompassing Tel Aviv and the whole of Israel.
Moreover, it did not hesitate to get rid of Fatah representatives in Gaza after the elections. Hundreds were pushed to their death from high-rise buildings, as terrorists shot hundreds more in the knees to ensure they would be crippled for life. No one has heard the families of the victims protesting or asking for compensation, and no Western humanitarian organization has taken up cudgels in their defense.
Egypt is the last rampart of the Arab world against the barbaric Islamic state taking shape. Iraq and Syria can no longer function and provide security and services to their citizens, and their armies are in disarray. It does not seem they can hold much longer against the new caliphate, unless they get outside help.
Only Egypt is still standing but its allies, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states – though they strongly oppose the Brotherhood – do not have the military capacity to stop the caliphate. What they can do, what they are doing, is put their considerable resources at the disposal of Cairo to further its economic renewal and allow it to buy weapons.
Indeed, Riyadh is bankrolling the $3 billion arms deal being negotiated between Cairo and Moscow; the deal, stretching over several years, was probably the main topic discussed at Sochi. At the same time, Egypt is working on its cooperation with Russia, including on the development of its nuclear energy program.
It is well-known that for Sisi, getting Egypt on the path to economic recovery is the main challenge.
However, to put the country back on track, the terror threat must be eliminated; that threat mainly stems from the area encompassing Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula, but of late radical Islamists have been massing on Egypt’s border with Libya. An attack on a border post killed 23 soldiers; electric poles are being brought down to disrupt the supply of electricity. Egypt has brought more troops to the area, and is getting ready for more attacks.
There is no reaction from the West. Israel and Egypt are the only two countries in the Middle East which can stop radical Islam, yet Europe is busy condemning Israel and denying it support in international forums, while letting violent protests against the Jewish state turn into attacks against local Jews. The US, for its part, is still withdrawing its military assistance to Egypt, while maintaining a dialogue with its enemies.