The changing situation:
Mubarak is in an increasingly bad shape. He is meeting with his generals, who I think realize they really hold the power, and as long as they don’t switch sides, the rabble can’t do anything and will peter out. Of course there are limits to this, as any man regardless of how powerful, quickly is reduced to just that, a single man, if his aura of power vanishes. Everyone in leadership is always aware of this, including the Generals. They too worry about losing control of their men.
Their interest is that Mubarak not look like he ran with the tail between his legs (the generals do not like to give so much power to the rabble who can then do the same thing with the next leader), but who knows how much they want him to remain.
You have the extremely powerful Intelligence chief Sulleiman, who apparently Mubarak is increasingly relying on, and is much more popular with the army than Mubarak’s son, and he may be a successor. However, I doubt the rabble would be to happy with him.
The one asset Mubarak has in this protest is that the most visible figurehead is Elbaradei, a weak academic bureaucrat who will quickly find himself over his head in this mess. The Muslim Brotherhood is relaying on this, because they see their taking of power under Mubarak to be extremely difficult, they imagine it quite easy under an Elbaradei.
They are by far the most powerful, organized and dedicated of the opposition movements, and they are laying low in these protests, to not scare off the west or the secular sections of the rabble protesting, and to not consolidate an opposition to the protests behind Mubarak (large sections of the population which would be afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood), but they are building up, and getting ready to pounce.
Already, they staged commando operations to free hundreds of inmates from Egyptian jails, many of course members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Funding will come from all the world’s supporters of jihad and other Arab states interested in a weakened Egypt. The famed “foreign fighters” may be coming to Egypt in droves to help the Brotherhood take over against whatever weak transitional government replaces Mubarak.
If Mubarak holds on, or if basically the same regime stays on by installing Suleiman or another close associate, these things will not happen. But any other radical change will weaken the army, replace the security and military old guard, and will undoubtedly bring an attempt by the Islamists to take over. It could succeed in the short term, or go back to festering in the background ever more powerfully, as is the case with democratic Lebanon where Hizballah finally just days ago, toppled the pro western govt and formed its own, or as was the case with Hamas in Gaza.
As much as I dislike the rabble, and would like to see the 80 something year old Mubarak stand firm, there is in fact great opportunity in the alternate scenarios. If in fact, a democratic and successful government that abides by the Sinai Agreement (camp david accords) takes over Egypt there is little to gain for Israel. They will be stronger and less isolated than Egypt was under Mubarak, and just as much as of an enemy. Perhaps more, because they Muslim Brotherhood will find proportional representation in parliament. A situation, much like present day Turkey.
The chances of exactly that however are small. And if in fact, the Muslim Brotherhood or any other such movement takes control of Egypt, there is a great benefit to reap.
The next government of Egypt could go as far as denying the Sinai Peace Accords. They could cite any number of excuses of Israeli noncompliance and declare the agreement dead. They could reactivate claims on Gaza, the Negev and the rest of Israel. At the very least, they could link their demands to the Palestinian’s, including full right of return and total territorial concessions.
Israel will of course, in typical self mutilation mode be desperate to make sure the treaty stands. It will declare and implore they love the treaty, be willing to make any further concessions, and will overlook any noncompliance by Egypt in order to make the treaty stand (where all a formal cancellation of the treaty means, is that Israel has claim once again on the Sinai)
In spite of Israel’s best efforts at kneeling before Egypt, whomever leads it from now on, the new Egypt could still deny the treaty.
This will have two positive effects:
1. Show to the Israeli people how futile their obsession with placing their dreams and security on a piece of paper.
Some explanation: I have often in previous notes, said how absurd it is that everyone thinks we have a wonderful “peace” with Egypt, but no peace yet with others of course, namely Syria, Iraq (before Saddam’s ouster), Iran etc.
This great peace with Egypt was bought at the price of the Sinai peninsula, an area larger than all of Israel itself, and unlike Gaza which we ironically kept, was quite depopulated and would have no Arab Intifada/occupation problem (not to mention Israelis seem to love Sinai and vacation there constantly). Unlike the West Bank and Gaza, with the problems of the Arab population there, the Golan also was quite depopulated and it is a wonderful, beautiful historically important wine producing annexed region of Israel. Thus could be the Sinai (aquaculture and snorkeling and oil instead of Wine). Israel conquered the Sinai twice, in two separate wars, defended it in a third, developed the tourism in Sinai, found oil there, and then gave it back to Egypt for this wonderful piece of paper.
This is the model that leads us to the inevitable giving up of the wonderful Golan Heights to Syria, for peace of course, and all the other lands for peace. We have not done that to date so we have no peace with Syria. I ask, where are the Syrian tanks invading tel aviv? Where were the Iraqi ones? The Iranians ones? Where are the Arab invading armies from all the Arab countries we have not paid off in holy land yet? The wonderful 30 years of peace constantly being attributed to the Camp David Accords with Egypt can be said of any other country. We DID NOT give Syria the Golan Heights and have had the same 30 years of peace with them. We did not give Jordan any land, and had the same peace, in fact we actually signed a peace agreement with Jordan that did not (almost) involve giving them any land. Iraq and Iran, sworn enemies also have never invaded in those 30 odd years. Neither has Saudi Arabia or any others. Have they waged terror and proxy wars? Of course, since they work, and they are better than losing wars, and Egypt has waged them just as well if not more than the rest. The antisemitic and anti-Israel propaganda in Egypt for the last decade or two is huge, and Egypt wields control over Hamas and the Gaza crossing, allowing weapons and money to flow when it suits it.
In fact, the so called “peace” simply binds Israel’s hands. While Israel nonchalantly bombed the Syrian reactor suspecting of developing nukes without any repercussion whatsoever, Egypt’s WMD program can never be bombed because it violates the “peace” we paid in land and blood with. Meanwhile, both countries work against Israel behind the scenes and in developing WMDs. So one can say the peace between Egpypt has been the same as with any of the non-peace countries, if not even a bit worse, since Israel’s hand is tied in reacting to it. It also has blinded the IDF into not training for war with Egypt which remains the most powerful of its neighbors and the biggest threat. Ironically, the Egyptian army, obsessively trains for war with Israel.
This has not been peace, but more accurately, the absence of war. Why has there been an absence of war? Why do I not see the Syrian tanks in Haifa in spite of their being no holy peace treaty bought in tribute? Because of a little thing called the IDF. The Arab countries do not invade Israel every day, because they wake up and go “Oh look at that kick-ass army, it will beat us if we try anything”. Period. If you disband the Israeli army, one will see plenty of arab tanks in Haifa, and one can see the true value of the piece of paper signed at Camp David. Egypt would, in one second, advance on Israeli land along with the other Arab countries, claiming either to “be entering to ensure stability and security” or to “ensure the the rights of the palestininas” or any other excuse if they even feel like making one.
Peace is bought at the price of strength, not pieces of papers signed by dictators.
So what is the opportunity? That even though that peace treaty has always been worthless and a terrible precedent, it has has the appearance of value since there has been no war with Egypt for 30 years. This fallacy leads Israelis to seek to replicate it, willing to give land to whomever is willing to give them a piece of paper in return with the word peace on it.
If Egypt cancels the treaty, it will have a great sobering effect on the Israeli public in making them realize their security lies in their own strength and not in treaties signed by dictators.
2. A truly Islamist regime in Egypt can be so hostile, that it could actually cause the reversal of the Camp David Accords. Israel could be forced into unity and rallied against such large common enemy, forced to break Egypt’s military might, recapture the Sinai, and perhaps even unilaterally transfer hostile populations from Gaza and Sinai to Egypt proper, for a more long lasting and stabilizing peaceful situation. The West will be more open to this situation due to the fear an Islamist Egypt would wreak on the west, no one wants a second Iran. The shameful cycle of “land for peace” could be broken and Israel reestablish itself as a strong, just and Powerful homeland for the Jewish people.