ISRAELI-EGYPTIAN TIES AND THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD: A COMMENT
"The Muslim Brotherhood opposition group in Egypt has called for a review of the 1978 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and says it should be resubmitted to a “freely elected” parliament for approval.
Regarded as the best-organised political group in Egypt, the Brotherhood is poised to play an influential role in politics in the country after the fall of the regime of Hosni Mubarak, the former president. Egypt is due to hold parliamentary elections in September and the group is likely to emerge with the largest bloc in the assembly. It said this week that its candidates would compete for half the seats in parliament.
“We should now raise our voice to ask for: an end to normalisation [with Israel] which has given our enemy stability; an end to [Egyptian] efforts to secure from infiltrators the borders of the Zionists; the abolition of all [joint] economic interests such as the Qualified Industrial Zones agreement and the export of Egyptian gas to Israel,” said Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood’s leader".
Heba Saleh, "Muslim Brotherhood urges review of Israel ties," The Financial Times. 5 May 2011, in www.ft.com.
"Egypt's foreign policy tends to be dominated to an embarrassing degree by the day-to-day exigencies of internal politics....Egyptian politicians will I fear always try to outdo each other in patriotism; to misquote the old saying, it is 'surtout pas d'ennemi `a droite' in Egypt. When we made the 1936 Treaty, we took the wise precaution of getting virtually every political leader of importance into a coalition government and having his signature on the treaty. This procedure is out of the question to-day. In the present political situation it seems really impossible to get the Wafd or even the Moslem Brotherhood to share responsibility with the present Government. In any case even the procedure we adopted in 1936 did not stop the Wafd in general or Nahas Pasha [long-time Egyptian Prime Minister under the Monarchy] personally from attacking the agreement they had signed or even from abrogating it altogether. This is a sobering reflexion for any who are tempted to believe that we can ever place much trust in the Egyptians. It also shows that a treaty concluded with an Egyptian government based on overwhelming popular support is not paradoxically, any more likely to endure than one concluded with a military junta."
Robin Hankey (Cairo) to the Marquess of Salisbury (London), 29 September 1953, in F[oreign]O[ffice] 371/102706, PRO Office, Kew, UK.
The report in the last Friday's Financial Times is quite ominous and worrying. It in effect raises the likelihood that there is a possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood dominated government, come this October will wish to either modify or even do away with the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The treaty which is the foundation stone of peace in the region and indeed American and Western security in the Near and Middle East. Sans this treaty and there is no gainsaying what may occur in the region. The skeptic (or should one say 'optimist'?) would argue that the Egyptian army will never allow this to happen. Perhaps this is the case, but given the changes already under way in Egyptian foreign policy, even before the real beginnings of popular politics, would seem to indicate that the military might not feel willing or able to overrule what are seem to be policies which are near uniformally popular. Something which the 1979 treaty is most definitely not. Either now, nor previously. Is there anything which can be done by the USA and the European powers to prevent things from getting out of control? Yes, and oddly enough, Robin Hankey, Churchill's personal choice to scuttle the approaching Anglo-Egyptian treaty back in 1953, has already suggested what should be done, and I would say immediately, namely:
"We can and in my opinion must do something on a big scale to boost [the] Egyptian economy and should be prepared to make a very early start in doing so, if the Council for the Revolutionary Command [Id est, the Nasserist regime] is not sooner rather than later to sink beneath the weight of its economic troubles. I have suggested elsewhere that we should combine in this with the Americans who seem to be willing to cooperate."1
Given the massive disruption that Egypt has experienced already from the overthrow of Mubarak, it goes without saying that economic assistance, on a large-scale is an immediate necessity. According to the Washington-based, Institute of International Finance, Egypt's economy is likely to suffer a recession during the current year. With output potentially falling as much as two and half percent 2. Given this factum, a programme of large-scale economic assistance before the upcoming Parliamentary & Presidential elections, is nothing other than a necessity. Otherwise, I am afraid that the more extremist elements in the country will receive even more popular backing for their policies.
1. Hankey to Salisbury, Op. cit.
2. Robin Harding, "Recession Fears for Egypt and Tunisia," The Financial Times. 3 May 2011, in www.ft.com.