The attack in the international waters of the Mediterranean in the early hours of May 31 by an elite force of the Israeli navy on the Turkish flagged Mavi Marmara civilian ferry crammed with more than 700 international activists, including several Americans, carrying 100 tonnes of cargo including concrete, medicines and children's toys, and leading five smaller vessels of the Free Gaza Flotilla, which left eight Turks and a U.S. citizen of Turkish origin dead and wounded several others, has cornered the United States in a defensive diplomatic position to contain the regional and international fallout of the military fiasco of the "Operation Sky Wind" its Israeli regional ally launched against the flotilla; it "puts the United States in an extremely difficult position," Marina Ottaway wrote in a report published by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on May 31.
Containing angry Arab reaction and adverse repercussions on Arab U.S. relations was most likely on the agenda of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday. However Biden is the least qualified to allay Arab anger for being the most vocal among U.S. officials in "legitimizing" Israel's blunder. The Gaza flotilla episode has dispelled the benefit of doubt the Arab allies have given to President Barak Obama's promises of change in U.S. foreign policy in their region. To regain Arab confidence it needs more than U.S. official visits whether by Biden or by a better choice because at the end of the day politics is not about "good intentions", but is rather about "good deeds," according to the Egyptian veteran political analyst Fahmy Howeidy.
Despite a pronounced belief to the contrary by U.S. Senator Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the head of Israel's Mossad, Meir Dagan, was more to the point when he said last week that "Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden." Earlier this year CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in CENTCOM's area of operations and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world." Israel seems determined to complicate Petraeus' mission further.
Washington has found its diplomacy faced with an Israeli fait accompli to be involuntarily embroiled in what the Israeli media harshly criticized as a tactical failure, which engulfed the U.S. administration in the roaring Arab and Muslim anger to be accused of being a partner to the Israeli adventure, thus fueling anti Americanism in the same arena where the administration is doing its best to defuse and contain the anti Americanism that was escalated by the invasion of Iraq in 2003, i.e. among U.S. regional allies. Once more, the Free Gaza Flotilla episode "will raise questions --not for the first time--over whether (Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu can be a dependable partner for the United States," Michele Dunne wrote in a Carnegie Endowment report.
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