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Egypt’s change is Iran’s checkmate

February 4, 2011

Sitting in my apartment in the affluent yet hip neighborhood of The Old North in Tel Aviv, which has a vibe similar to SoHo in downtown Manhattan more so than the Middle East, it’s a bit difficult to conceptualize the fact that the enemies of Israel are now officially at the gates.

A headline in the English language edition of Russia’s online daily ‘Ria Novosti’ reads “Muslim Brotherhood wants to end Egypt-Israeli peace deal”. The only shocking aspect of this headline is how soon it came. In lieu of the overtures given by the soon to be Egyptian government, which were those of non-violence, anyone privy to the track record of this organization would automatically deem these overtures to be outright lies. Their track record includes: during WWII, being closely allied with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammad Amin al-Husayni as well as the Nazi regime,  and more recently, spawning Hamas.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s intentions are obvious, but not so obvious are the intentions of former IAEA head and Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei. At first glance, having acquired a master’s degree in Geneva’s IHEID and a doctorate at NYU, both in international law, ElBaradei would certainly make for a palatable successor to Mubarak. But his dealings with the Iranians during the time of the inspections of their nuclear facilities, paint an entirely differently picture of him and do not bode well for the future of Egypt-Israel relations.  Furthermore, there is outright implication that Iran may have had a hand in the current upheaval in Egypt, via ElBaradei. On September 6th, 2010, the Egyptian newspaper Al Youm Al Sabeh reported: “In a communication to the Attorney General of Egypt, Dr. Yasser Najib Abdel Mabboud has accused Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei…of receiving funds exceeding $7 million from Iran’s leadership as support for ‘political reform in Egypt’…a meeting between an Arab businessman, who is said to be close to El Baradei and who has only been identified by the initials A. E. and an Iranian official, took place in a hotel in Bucharest, Romania…reportedly the Iranian envoy told the businessman to convey to ElBaradei that he has Iran’s complete support.”

So there you have it folks. Iran’s chess configuration is now complete. Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hamas in Gaza. Muslim Brotherhood with the help of ElBaradei in Egypt, and soon to be in: TunisiaJordan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, and Sudan, where all have their own versions of “Day of Ragedemonstrations scheduled for various dates in February. Furthermore, the impending draw-down of the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, coupled with Iran’s influence there, can potentially create a very powerful Shiite triumvirate with Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon.

One would think that the presence of two all-encompassing entities, one being Shia and the other Sunni, would have all the makings of a Muslim civil war in the region. But as the saying goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” or to be region-specific “we all hate Israel more than we hate each other”.

The irony in all of this is that Saudi Arabia may well be the lone, even if inadvertent, buffer for Israel; a country where young Saudi’s enthusiastically endorse the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt but have no designs on doing the same with their own regime, mainly because of King Abdullah’s popularity. “What is happening in Egypt has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia,” says Muhammad Al-Asmari, 19, a student in Jeddah. “Mubarak has done absolutely nothing for Egypt in three decades. You can’t say the same for Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah has done a lot for us.” Unlike Egypt, whose oil wealth is estimated to be roughly $206 billion, Saudi Arabia’s roughly $24 trillion (by today’s prices) enables them to build schools, hospitals and infrastructure and provide social services that Egypt cannot.

These developments undoubtedly raise some questions. Now that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been put on-hold indefinitely, if not completely obliterated, what role will the U.S. now play in relation to Israel? Will Russia and Europe begin to more actively handle the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism in their midst? And lastly, will Israel now consider acting unilaterally against Iran before this regional re-alignment is complete?

While many Israeli citizens have been asking these and other questions over the last week or so, the more pressing issue as a result of the chaos in Egypt has become the influx of yet more Sudanese refugees, a predominantly Muslim group which has brought an increase in violent crime in the last few years to places such as Eilat and the southern part of Tel Aviv.

On a more personal note, I see these unfortunates every day before getting on the bus to go home from work, and seeing them serves as a reminder that I do in fact live in the Middle East, not in SoHo. Moreover, even though there is no war at the moment, we will still be feeling the effects of the dominoes falling in the coming months.

 

 

Correction: Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth is 265 billion barrels which translates to roughly $24 trillion.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2011 8:48 am

    The Saudis have 265 billion BARRELS of oil, not dollars, according to the links you’ve provided. And today’s price of a barrel of oil edges up ever so closer to the $100 dollars mark. So you got it wrong by a 100-fold. The Saudis have 100x more oil wealth than you stated, the equivalent of US$26 trillion in today’s prices.

    Back to the real issue. The US policy for the last 3 years, clearly, is to provoke a major regional war against Israel. Ii is 3 years since the false fabricated NIE report of December (?) 2007 absolving Iran of any wrong-doings on the nuclear issue. It is quite clear that the Brzezinsky-ite grand bargon was reached at about summer of 2007 between the US and Iran. Brzezinski is on the record promoting his grand “stability” strategy of invoving top Euro partners; engaging Russia and the like; accomodating regional powers “in their just regional aspirations”, specifically and by name, Iran; and “pacifying Israel” (that is a direct quote). Look up his Cheatham House speech few days prior the 2008 elections, on youTube.

    The US obviously are not afraid of Israel’s actions in that war they prepare. They must know something about a certain myth that is widely considered to be a fact by the desensitized numbed-down well-entertained Israelis.

    Mass emigration is our only option. Another would be for our gov’t to blackmail the West by threats of an influence of a world-wide nature (you’ve heard about Nes Tziona, it’s a nice city) that would be unleashed in response to that war – not in a vain attempt to prevent the elimination of our country, but in demanding a piece of land in Canada and safe transportation there for all Israelis instead of a select few.

  2. imperialistscum permalink
    February 5, 2011 11:01 am

    I agree with you regarding the US policy. and it’s not 3 years. it’s basically since Obama came in, starting with the Cairo speech.

    and by the way…with that attitude, you should already be booking a ticket to Toronto right about now.

  3. November 16, 2013 9:04 pm

    No, much before Obama, as I said. It started with Baker/Hamilton Iraq study report, they directly called for “accommodating Iran’s reasonable regional aspirations”. — Have you seen the US movie Deterrence, circa 1995? With Kevin Pollack as the US president dropping a 100 Mt bomb on Baghdad? Its main feature was the nuclear warheads sold to Iraq by France, which in the critical moment turned out to be duds. Didn’t explode at all, when Saddam shot his missiles all over Europe. And what about our army bosses, now, post Ashkenazi debacle. Are they even capable of decisive actions? Are they not all bought for, if not threatened into submission, by USA/CIA? (cf. Baltic states in 1940; it became known years later that their bosses where 75% agents of the Soviets, willing or not willing, it didn’t matter). — I’m still here, in the beleaguered castle BTW. What about you?

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