Powered by WebAds

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Time to re-evaluate the treaty with Egypt

Al-Reuters is reporting this morning that the Egyptians have 'found' 2.25 tons of weapons and explosives in the Sinai this morning, including anti-tank mines and rocket propelled grenades. This makes more than four tons of explosives 'found' in Sinai in the last month, although Egyptian officials who spoke to al-Reuters tried to make it sound like these weapons might not have been bound for the 'Palestinians.'

In fact, al-Reuters makes the galling assertion that "Israel has said repeatedly that tons of munitions and explosives are being smuggled through tunnels from Sinai into the Gaza Strip but has presented scarce evidence that Gaza gunmen use such weaponry."

In fact, a Wall Street Journal article last month claimed that more than 19 tons of explosives had been smuggled into Sinai (to that point) under the Egyptians' watchful eye since Israel surrendered Gaza. And just last week, Hamas ministers - again under Egypt's watchful eye - smuggled $4 million in cash from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. Because of Egypt's unwillingness to act as a friend - and he cites many more instances - Daniel Pipes argues that it's time for Israel to reconsider its treaty with Egypt. I could not agree more:

Cairo may have no apparent enemies, but the impoverished Egyptian state sinks massive resources into a military buildup. According to the Congressional Research Service, Egypt purchased $6.5 billion worth of foreign weapons in 2001–04, more than any other state in the Middle East. In contrast, the Israeli government bought only $4.4 billion worth during that period, and the Saudis $3.8 billion.

Egypt ranked as the third-largest purchaser of arms in the entire developing world, following only population giants China and India. It has the 10th-largest standing army in the world, well over twice the size of Israel's.


With the benefit of retrospect, however, we see that the treaty did palpable harm in at least two ways. First, it opened the American arsenal and provided American funding to purchase the latest in weaponry. As a result, for the first time in the Arab-Israeli conflict, an Arab armed force may have reached parity with its Israeli counterpart.

Second, it spurred anti-Zionism. I lived for nearly three years in Egypt in the 1970s, before Sadat's dramatic trip to Jerusalem in late 1977, and I recall the relatively low interest in Israel at that time. Israel was plastered all over the news, but it hardly figured in conversations. Egyptians seemed happy to delegate this issue to their government. Only after the treaty, which many Egyptians saw as a betrayal, did they themselves take direct interest. The result was the emergence of a more personal, intense, and bitter form of anti-Zionism.

The same pattern was replicated in Jordan, where the 1994 treaty with Israel soured popular attitudes. To a lesser extent, the 1993 Palestinian Arab accords and even the aborted 1983 Lebanon treaty prompted similar responses. In all four cases, diplomatic agreements prompted a surge in hostility toward Israel.

Defenders of the "peace process" answer that, however hostile Egyptians' attitudes and however large their arsenal, the treaty has held; Cairo has in fact not made war on Israel since 1979. However frigid the peace, peace it has been. To which I reply: If the mere absence of active warfare counts as peace, then peace also has prevailed between Syria and Israel for decades, despite their formal state of war. Damascus lacks a treaty with Jerusalem, but it also lacks modern American weaponry. Does an antique signature on a piece of paper offset Egypt's Abrams tanks, F–16 fighter jets, and Apache attack helicopters? I think not. In retrospect, it becomes apparent that multiple fallacies and wishful predictions fueled Arab-Israeli diplomacy...

Read the whole thing.


At 12:05 PM, Blogger highboy said...

I love your website, and I'm linking you to my blog right now.

Great post. I'm also adding you to my list of daily reads.


Post a Comment

<< Home