Monday, February 14, 2011

Egypt and Israel going forward

As Jerry Brown said on Friday, we don't know if the results of the Egyptian democratic moment and the resignation of the dictator Mubarak will be more good that bad. It will take a while to tell. The Egyptian military has announced the suspension of the Constitution and a six-month transition period to democracy. For ruling militaries, those transition periods have been known to be extended again and again, sometimes indefinitely.

Daniel Levy comments on the implications for Israeli-Egyptian relations in Egypt unrest could improve Israel ties Haaretz 02/11/2011. He observes that because even a military regime is likely to be more responsive to popular demands in Egypt, "Israel's strategic environment - notably the capacity it provides to avoid making choices and to disguise the status quo as progress - is about to change." While he explains that the Israel-Egypt peace treaty remains in the interests of both countries, some of Egypt's policies that pleased Israeli governments are not so likely to continue:

The package of regional policies pursued by the Mubarak regime lacked popular legitimacy. This included the closure imposed on Gaza, support for the Iraq war and for heightened bellicosity toward Iran, and playing ceremonial chaperone to a peace process that became farcical and discredited. Part of the democracy deficit is also a dignity deficit, as these policies appeared undignified to the Egyptian public.
Aluf Benn argues that Mubarak's departure thwarted Israeli strike on Iran Haaretz 02/13/2011.

He expects that Mubarak's successors will be opposed to an attack on Iran:

The revolutionaries at Tahrir Square were motivated by Egyptian national pride and not by their adoration of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Whoever succeeds Mubarak will want to follow this line, even bolster Egyptian nationalism, and not transform Egypt into an Iranian satellite. This does not mean that Mubarak's successor will encourage Israel to strike the Iranian nuclear installations.

On the contrary: they will listen to Arab public opinion, which opposes a preemptive war against Iran. Israel will find it difficult to take action far to the east when it cannot rely on the tacit agreement to its actions on its western border. Without Mubarak there is no Israeli attack on Iran. His replacement will be concerned about the rage of the masses, if they see him as a collaborator in such operation.
It's good news if the Egyptian revolution decreases the chances of war with Israel. But that doesn't mean American neocons will stop pressing for a war with Iran. The idea of Israel attacking Iran on its own was always far-fetched. Leaders operating from an extreme ideology like those of the current Israeli government are more likely than others to make irrational decisions. But, in any case, the likelihood of a direct Israeli attack on Iran now appears to be even less.

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"It is the logic of our times
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That we who lived by honest dreams
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