Egyptian Riots – Tense Time For Israel


“The sun will rise on a more beautiful Egypt,” were the words of one Egyptian as he celebrated the end of Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year reign in government. As the Egyptian army is given control of the state, it is uncertain as to who or what the future of Egyptian politics will be. Although I support the Egyptian peoples success in overthrowing a dictatorial regime, I worry what may come next…

As a budding young Zionist and student of History I find myself taking an acute interest in the ongoing political situation in Egypt and trying to measure what the consequences may well be for Israel and its security. Hosni Mubarak has now resigned and handed power over to the military. The Government has been disbanded; the constitution revoked; and elections have been promised within six months.

As you can imagine, this issue is not being taken lightly in the Israeli Houses of Parliament. Israel has had a peace agreement in place with Egypt since 1979 and the two countries have been able to build up a successful relationship ever since. Israeli holidaymakers not only make the trip across the border to famous Mediterranean resorts like Sham-El-Sheikh every year, Israel also relies on Egypt for up to 40% of their gas imports.

The events in the last two weeks in Cairo however have caused nerves to grow in Jerusalem. With no clear leader taking charge of the recent riots, it is unclear as to where the future lies for Egyptian politics. A number of figures, such as Mohamed ElBaradei, have emerged as a potential future Egyptian President.

However, there is one established group that has been in Egypt for decades and may well use this opportunity to launch themselves into Egyptian politics – the Muslim Brotherhood.

President Binyamin Netanyahu has openly stressed that groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, who have a close connection to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, act as a threat to democracy ever taking place in Egypt and may well lead the country to mirror other Muslim states such as Iran. Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, recently stated on ABC News that the longstanding peace between Israel and Egypt is not at threat in light of the Egyptian revolution, however he agreed with Netanyahu that the consequences of the Muslim Brotherhood taking over in Egypt “would be a catastrophe for the whole region”.

The Brotherhood have a strong support in Egypt right now and if they take part in any form of the new Egyptian government, Israel could well be faced with yet another hostile state on their immediate border. Perhaps there may even be a return of the pan-Arabism seen in previous decades if the recent troubles in Egypt and Tunisia continue to spread across the Middle East.

With Syria and Lebanon both open about their dislike for Israel and a growing threat from Iran, the thought of another enemy surrounding Israel is likely to sit incredibly uncomfortably in both Jerusalem and Washington.

The problems in Egypt also pose a huge threat to any hope of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Egypt, under Mubarak, often acted as mediator when indirect negotiations were taking place between Israel and the Palestinians. Egypt has also become the most visited state by Prime Minister Netanyahu outside of the United States.

If Egypt falls under the leadership of a government that is not only hostile to Israel but also to America this will surely mean that peace negotiations will be near impossible without the support of at least one Arab state.

The ‘Turkish Flotilla’ incident last year severely dented Israel’s relationship with other Arab states such as Turkey and Jordan, and Egypt may quickly join the club. All of this spells out difficult times ahead for the Israeli government who is struggling enough to convince some of its own Ministers that a two-state solution is the only viable option for peace.

A recent article in the International Herald Tribune, titled ‘We the Egyptian People’, finished with the words of Seif Salmawy, a Managing Director of a publishing company in Cairo. Mr Salmawy talked with optimism about the times ahead for the Egyptian people as they finally have a ‘voice’. Although I support the fact that a tyrant like Hosni Mubarak is finally being shown for what he really is, I worry for the aftermath of the State of Israel.

Benjamin Carroll


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