The Egyptian intifada and what it may mean for Israel/Palestine

on 24 Comments

The Egyptian uprising against the Mubarak regime is historic and important in its own right. But it may also lead to significant changes in the region that could be positive for the Palestinian cause. Israel is worried about a reliable ally being toppled next door.

The Mubarak dictatorship is a core pillar of the U.S./Israeli order in the Middle East, an order that completely ignores the wishes and aspirations of people on the ground. The U.S. and Israel are scared of the new order that is to come.

As As’ad Abu Khalil notes at his blog, “the Israeli strategy in the Middle East has been firmly set on the continuity of the Sadat-Mubarak dictatorship.” Israel’s peace agreement with Egypt in 1979 removed a military threat to Israel and secured millions of U.S. dollars and military support for the Egyptian dictatorship. The Mubarak regime got carte blanche for its repressive rule.

Currently, there is extensive cooperation between Egypt and Israel. Cables obtained by WikiLeaks, and published by Counterpunch, reveal that the Israeli military coordinated bombing runs with the Egyptian military during the 2008-09 assault on Gaza and closed the Rafah border when told in advance that Israel’s ground invasion was to begin. WikiLeaks’ documents shed further light on Egypt currently building a wall meant to choke off smuggling tunnels into the Gaza Strip.

The fall of the Mubarak regime, which is what the youth revolt currently sweeping Egypt is calling for, could mean a number of things related to the siege of Gaza, continued efforts to crush Hamas and the political situation Israel finds itself in.

All told, what happens in Egypt will not stay in Egypt. It will have ripple effects across the Middle East, and especially in Israel/Palestine.

Alex Kane blogs at  Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

24 Responses

  1. Bandolero
    January 27, 2011, 4:03 pm

    Alex writes:
    “The U.S. and Israel are scared of the new order that is to come.”
    I disagree with this statement. What I see is that Israel is scared like hell and support Mubarak, but the US supports the protests. See AJ yesterday:

    Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has said that widespread anti-government protests over poverty and government repression in Egypt represent an opportunity for the 30-year administration of president Hosni Mubarak to implement “political, economic and social reforms to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people”.

    In unusually blunt remarks regarding the longtime US ally, delivered on Wednesday, Clinton also said that the Mubarak government should not prevent peaceful protests or block social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook, which have helped Egyptians plan and spread news about the unrest.

    Obama’s speaker backed that harsh stance against the Mubarak regime, too. Behind the scenes we see now the same US establishment institutions, which backed regime change in Tunisia, now backing regime change efforts in Egypt. We also see a large part of the US media machine in full swing to support El Baradei leading protests.

    So my analysis: Obama asked Netanyahu for stopping settlement activity. Netanyahu has spit in Obama’s face. Obama asked Mubarak to make more democracy happen and help him against Netanyahu. Mubarak declined.

    Now is Obama acting – against Mubarak and indirectly targeting by this Netanyahu.

    • yourstruly
      January 27, 2011, 10:48 pm

      when a nation, backs dictatorships for years but then on the eve of mass uprisings cum revolution(s), jumps in and claims to be all for the people, that’s called opportunism, not genuine support.

  2. pabelmont
    January 27, 2011, 4:10 pm

    One understands Israel being worried about democratization of Egypt.

    But why is USA worried about an outbreak of democracy? Don’t we always say (oh, so proudly), “Democracies don’t make war on other democracies” (ignoring the possibility that both Israel and Lebanon are democracies)? If there were oil (does Egypt have oil?), would a democratic government choose not to sell it to USA or its allies? Again, what is the problem?

    Are there (in Egypt, say) USA corporations (or other foreign corporations) to be nationalized (implying the necessity to repeat the 1953 de-democratization of Iran, with all its happy sequelae)? And, of course, the “necessity” for such a coup would fall to the USA, the self-appointed “determiner of all things in the world”.

    Guess I’d flunk Forn-Pol 101, hunh?

  3. seafoid
    January 27, 2011, 4:21 pm

    It is all very uncertain. The people of Egypt are appalled by Israel’s treatment of Gaza. They see it regularly on TV. The Copts and Egypt’s Muslims haven’t been allowed make pilgrimage to East Jerusalem since 1967.

    Egyptian/Arab dictatorship is one of the four pillars of Israel. The other ones are Palestinian weakness, European Holocaust guilt and the US veto.

    • yonira
      January 27, 2011, 6:14 pm

      The Copts and Egypt’s Muslims haven’t been allowed make pilgrimage to East Jerusalem since 1967.

      Really? I’ve never heard this before and was unable to corroborate either.

  4. Potsherd2
    January 27, 2011, 4:36 pm

    Obama acting – I don’t think so.

    They may give lip service to freedom, but behind the scenes, it’s repression as usual, shoring up the regime.

    The thing to watch will be the Republican Congress, which wants to cut aid to Egypt.

  5. hophmi
    January 27, 2011, 5:13 pm

    I don’t think the Israelis are especially scared of Arab democracy. It’s like anything else; it depends. If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over, I think everyone in the region and around the world will be scared. If it’s a more liberal government under someone like ElBaradei, I think everyone, including the Israelis, will be happy.

    The more Egyptians focus on building their own society, the less of a threat they are to Israel.

    • Lydda Four Eight
      January 27, 2011, 5:31 pm

      I thought the Ikhwan/ Muslim Brotherhood supported El Baradei?

    • Potsherd2
      January 27, 2011, 5:55 pm

      Reports I’ve seen say the MB is lying low.

      • annie
        January 27, 2011, 6:03 pm

        potsherd, i just read on the twitter feed they’re joining the demonstrations tomorrow.

      • Potsherd2
        January 27, 2011, 6:04 pm

        Well, they don’t want to be left behind!

      • annie
        January 27, 2011, 6:20 pm

        i wonder if perhaps they were staying in the background because this isn’t an islamic inspired revolution and they didn’t want it portrayed as such by a western islamaphobic press.

      • Lydda Four Eight
        January 28, 2011, 12:15 am

        I believe in the summer the MB came out as supporters of El Baradei and every time my the above two are mentioned around my father, who is the typical Arab news junkie armchair politician, though pops did work for one regime and was ousted by another in one nation that shall remain unnamed and no it wasn’t in Palestine. Anyhow, there are online reports that say the MB supports EB as well as other political groups in Egypt that are critical of EB, anyone ever heard of Ibrahim Eissa who used to write for al-Destour/ constitution party? He was fired from his position at the paper for writing a report critical of EB.

    • Peter H
      January 27, 2011, 5:55 pm

      That’s nonsense, Hophmi. If you actually bothered to read what’s ElBaradei said, he’s repeatedly criticized the Mubarak government for its accommodating approach towards Israel, especially its role in maintaining the blockade of Gaza.

  6. Lydda Four Eight
    January 27, 2011, 5:27 pm

    This is an excellent interview from AJE with a State Dept Rep:
    link to


    What I find so funny in the above, beside the obviously stupendous job the AJE reporter does, is when the State guy says they support social media and technology during this time the USA supports democracy, blah, blah, blah. I was thinking how nice of you. What about supporting those things along with FREE PRESS when Israel was raining missiles down on Gaza in 08-09? And what about supporting these things when the Israeli commandoes stole/ confiscated and silenced media/ social media activists on the Mavi-marmara? Not only did Israel confiscate all the activists’ gear but they also scrambled the network so they couldn’t send out anything while they were on the flotilla.

    How do you do that? How do you talk out of both sides of your mouth?

    Also the AJE journalist says Democracy will destabilize Middle East and suggests that’s why USA pays 1.3 billion for Mobarak’s security forces and only $20 million for programs on governance and democracy in Egypt. That’s striking, what does our USA gov’t fund in terms of gov’t and democracy programs at home compared to military spending?

  7. seafoid
    January 27, 2011, 5:32 pm

    Swiss TV shows unedited Israeli hasbara on the evening news.

    You don’t need French to get the gist. Just look at the images.
    Sophisticated Israel, the evil enemy, the threat to civilisation. One to store for the day the Israeli regime falls.

    link to

  8. eee
    January 27, 2011, 6:12 pm

    How could true democracy in Egypt hurt Israel?
    Let’s say El-Baradei puts in place a real democratic regime. He will be accountable to his people. Therefore, he will not be able to alienate the US or the West for which Egypt depends on for aid and trade. He will therefore keep the peace treaty with Israel in place. What will change then?

    And if he annuls the peace treaty, it will be a declaration of war and he will be responsible for a war in which he will lose the Sinai to Israel. Great way to start ruling and help your people.

    • Taxi
      January 27, 2011, 7:06 pm

      eee you sound ne-ne-ne-nennnnnnnerrrrrrvvvvvvous.

      And still so deludedly sure of your fantasy Sinai victory.

      Got peace and morals much?

    • annie
      January 27, 2011, 7:16 pm

      He will therefore keep the peace treaty with Israel in place. What will change then?

      And if he annuls the peace treaty, it will be a declaration of war and he will be responsible for a war in which he will lose the Sinai to Israel.

      what does the peace treaty say about egypt determining it’s own border w/gaza? does it require egypt to carry out the blockade or do things israel’s way? i noticed w/crowley talk clearly our requitrement for egypt have much more to do w/israel’s security than the security of the egyptian people under threat from their dictator/puppet.

      so what kind of ‘annuls’ process are you eluding to you claim is a defacto declaration of war?

  9. Bravo
    January 27, 2011, 7:00 pm

    god, eee you really play dense. a democratic egypt would never have blockaded gaza, it would be far less willing to tolerate israel’s assaults on the territories. egypt was the only nation capable of seriously threatening israel’s existence; and while i dont think its much of a military power (at all) israelis recognize that the nation has enormous potential. 80 million people and the center of the arab world. if egypt becomes democratic, itll pretty much mean the end of israeli impunity.

    • Taxi
      January 27, 2011, 7:07 pm

      I disagree, Bravo,

      eee is not ‘playing’ dense.

      • jimby
        January 27, 2011, 8:09 pm

        eeek is playing his lines for schoolchildren in case any are following this blog.

  10. justicewillprevail
    January 27, 2011, 7:18 pm

    If democracy is a good thing for Egypt, which it obviously is, then it is also a good idea in Israelestine. Why, it might give those pesky upstarts in the West Bank some ideas.

  11. yourstruly
    January 27, 2011, 11:10 pm

    the fall of the tunisian dictatorship

    begets the fall of the egyptian dictatorship

    begets the fall of the jordanian dictatoship

    begets the fall of yemen’s dictatorship

    and so on and so forth throughout the arab world


    with the saudi monarchy the last to go down

    and then none of the king’s men and none of his ponies

    will be ablr to put humpty-dumpty together again

    as for empire?

    that’ll be up to the american people


    not so in a world strewn with the corpses of empire’s former appendages

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