Mideast Posts; please read on.
An air of uncertainty is engulfing most matters related to Egypt. Since the Egyptian revolt started over two years ago, the country remains hostage to a barefaced power struggle with many destructive implications that have polarized society in unprecedented ways, perhaps in all of Egypt’s modern history. And while in Egypt itself nothing is sacred and no one is safe from the massive campaigns of defamation, demonization and sheer lies that each political camp is launching against the other, Palestinians find themselves in a most precarious position.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in particular, are heavily dependent on their Egyptian neighbors. Six years of an Israeli siege, originally imposed to punish Palestinians for electing Hamas in an election viewed widely as transparent and fair, has culminated into a drama with international dimensions. This drama of course involved the Palestinians, but also Israel’s traditional benefactors – led, as always, by the United States – Arab countries, Iran, Turkey and more. Aside from the vicious nature of a siege imposed to punish a civilian population for making democratic choices, the siege has morphed to acquire multiple meanings.
On one hand, it further cemented the division of Palestinian political elites, as the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) invested in ensuring the isolation of its Hamas political opponents. Notably, this took place after their brief but bloody encounters in Gaza in 2007. On the other hand, the siege positioned Hamas, whose survival was at stake, forcefully in a regional camp that involved Iran, Syria and the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah.
The last development in particular was exploited by Israel in every way possible and certainly without much context. It subsequently attacked Gaza at will, killing and wounding thousands in the course of few years, in the name of fighting Middle Eastern radicals hell-bent on erasing Israel off the map.
Under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt served as a buffer zone for Israel and the US to isolate Hamas from the rest of the world. The Egyptian dictator also had his own reasons for isolating Gaza. Any success in Mubarak’s neighborhood for the Islamists, Palestinians or others, would have constituted a threat and would have emboldened Egypt’s own Islamists to expect or strive for a greater role in Egypt’s undemocratic political institutions. Moreover, by tightening the noose, the Egyptian regime at the time had hoped to strengthen its role as a major player in the US Arab camp of ‘moderates’, in exchange for financial and political perks.