Photo: Meir Partush
Eitan Haber
Photo: Meir Partush
Tahrir Square protests

10 remarks on Egypt

Op-ed: Cold peace with Egypt spared Israel numerous fatalities, huge economic costs

1. This list of remarks will start with words of praise and gratitude for Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, Moshe Dayan and Boutrous Ghali, Ezer Weizmann and Kamel Hassan Ali, Aharon Barak and many others, in Israel and in Egypt, who with great diplomatic boldness, wisdom and goodwill gave Israel (and Egypt) peace. Thirty-two years have passed since then. It was a cold, hostile, repulsive peace – but it was peace. No wars broke out and no fatalities were reported. Actually, 30 Israelis were killed, mostly in terror attacks. Each victim was a precious soul, yet in national terms 30 fatalities are the number of people killed in road accidents in Israel every two weeks.


2. There will be enough people who would say: You see what came out of this peace? (While pointing to the latest developments in Egypt.) The response to these people should be as follows: Almost 3,000 Israelis were killed in the last war against Egypt, in 1973; some 500 Israelis were killed in the 1967 war; and more than 1,000 IDF soldiers and officers were killed in the war that raged between these wars (the War of Attrition). Given that Israel-Egypt wars took place every 10 years or so on average, we were spared three wars. Do the math.


3. And let’s assume for a moment that there was no peace with Egypt. We would then have to maintain, since the early 1980s, more brigades, hundreds of extra aircraft, many hundreds of additional tanks and so on and so forth. In such case, where would our economy be today?


4. The Egyptian army is not only a military, but also an economic empire. Should it embark on war, Egypt would collapse economically, and then its 85 million citizens will not even have their daily pita bread.


5. In recent days, Egypt’s Supreme Military Council attempted to set the rules of the game for the important upcoming elections, and in fact tried to position itself above any future elected government. The mass protests this week thwarted these plans somewhat. Yet my guess is that the army will be able to impose its authority on today’s protestors, who are tomorrow’s voters.


6. General Tantawi, Mubarak’s successor, was mostly known to Israelis as the man who sat in our meetings with Mubarak and said nothing. Some interpreted this conduct as hostility to Israel. Yet ever since Mubarak was toppled, General Tantawi displayed decent leadership abilities. However, in the past few days he has been losing his stature while fearing the masses in the square, who view him as Mubarak’s direct continuation. Should Tantawi be toppled in the coming days, Egyptians would have to pray for the wellbeing of their country. We should be joining that prayer.


7. The Egyptian regime’s loss of control over the hundreds of thousands of Bedouins in the Sinai is a grave concern. In fact, today we are dealing with an almost-independent state of Sinai. The Bedouins are doing as they wish in this desert. In the framework of this disaster, the Bedouins discovered Egypt’s two vulnerabilities in the Sinai: The gas pipeline to Israel, and the American peace-keeping force, MFO (few people in Israel are aware of its existence for some 30 years now; 1,200 American troops who take their mission seriously.) The Bedouins have been gravely disrupting and abusing the Americans, who may lose their patience. At that point, the United States will take action. May God have mercy on the Bedouins, who are going a little too far every day.


8. The Muslim Brotherhood’s political strength ahead of the Egyptian elections is estimated at some 25%. This is great power; too great. They are also the most organized force in Egypt, and possess arms. However, they are cautious and tend to hide in the second row, behind the leaders. Should they succeed too much and make the foolish mistake of seeking the entire cake, Egypt can expect a civil war.


9. Aharon Yariv, the former IDF intelligence chief, used to end his briefings as follows: “However, everyone I just said can go the other way. This is the Middle East, gentlemen.” I shall adopt his concluding remark.


10. Hosni Mubarak, we miss you.




פרסום ראשון: 11.23.11, 18:47
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