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Egypt/Turkey-Israel: "A clean break'

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Despite Turkish storm clouds on the horizon, until 25 January 2011, Israel's plan was still to replace the Ottoman Turks of yore as the local imperial power. The Arab nations (prepared by British imperial divide-and-conquer and local-strongman policies) would be kept divided, weak, dependent now on Israel to ensure safe access to oil. An Israeli-style peace would break out throughout the region.

But this tangled web has unravelled. Despite the $36 billion poured into Egypt's military and Americanisation of Egypt's armed forces since the peace treaty with Israel, according to wikileaks-egypt.blogspot.com US officials complained of the "backward-looking nature of Egypt's military posture" (read: Israel is still Egypt's main enemy), that the army generals remained resistant to change and economic reforms to further dismantle central government power.

Egyptian Minister of Defence Muhammad Tantawi "has resisted any change to usage of FMF [foreign military financing] funding and has been the chief impediment to transforming the military's mission to meet emerging security threats." In plain language, Egypt's de facto head of state was criticised by the US because he refused to go along with the new US-Israeli strategy which would incorporate Egypt's defence into a broader NATO war against "asymmetric threats" (read: the "war on terror") and to acquiesce to Israel as the regional hegemon.

Mubarak was the Egyptian strongman that fit Sharon's strategy for the region. But he was overthrown in a truly unforeseen manner -- by the people. Yinon's divide-and-rule strategy -- in the case of Egypt, by inciting Muslim against Copt -- has also come to naught with the popular revolution here, one of its symbols being the crescent and cross.

There has indeed been "a clean break" with the past, but not the one foreseen by Perle. His scheme can be rephrased as: Egypt and Turkey can shape their strategic environment, in cooperation with Syria and Lebanon, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Israel. As for Dichter's hubris, it is impossible at this point to see what the future holds for Iraq, but it will not be what he had in mind. And Iran can now breathe a sigh of relief.

A year and a half ago, an Israel Navy submarine crossed the Suez Canal to the Red Sea, where it conducted an exercise, reflecting the strategic cooperation between Israel and Egypt, aimed at sending a message of deterrence to Iran. Just one week after the fall of Mubarak, the canal is being used to deliver a message of deterrence -- but this time the message is for Israel, as Iranian warships cross the canal on their way to Syrian ports.

Nor are the upheavals across the Arab world at present following the sectarian scenario envisioned by Yinon. Even the Shia uprising in Bahrain is more about an oppressive neocolonial monarchy, originally imposed by the British, than about Shia-Sunni hostility.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has expressed fears about Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood "undermining the peace treaty" which 85 per cent of Israelis approve of. But he need not fear. While Egyptians have no love for Israel, none contemplate another war against what is clearly a more powerful and ruthless neighbour.
What really hurts for the Likudniks is the new Egypt in cooperation with the new Turkey will put paid to the Sharon/ Yinon strategy for establishing Israel as the regional empire. It will have to join the comity of nations not as a ruthless bully, but as a responsible partner.

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Eric writes for Al-Ahram Weekly and PressTV. He specializes in Russian and Eurasian affairs. His "Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games", "From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization" and "Canada (more...)
 

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