Overhauling U.S. Policy in the Middle East

(National Interest) Leon Hadar - The changes emerging from the Arab Spring go beyond a clash between pro-Western movements and Islamist groups. The shifting balance of power in the Middle East - triggered in part by eroding American influence in the region - is bringing to the fore realpolitik concerns that likely will overcome ideological considerations. It is not the Egyptian-Israeli treaty agreement of 1979 or the billions of dollars in U.S. economic and military assistance to Egypt that have induced the Egyptians to refrain from going to war with Israel. The 1979 accord reflected the reality that the evolving power balance led both Israel and Egypt to conclude that a war between them would be too costly and detrimental to their interests. Egypt, economically bankrupt and unable to feed and educate its own people, is certainly not positioned to pursue military confrontation with Israel. Hamas may be evolving into a client (mini)state of a more Islamist-oriented Egypt. In that context, Egypt's interest would be in providing Hamas with enough support to prevent it from coming under the influence of the more radical players in the region, such as Iran. At the same time, Cairo would need to ensure that Hamas' policies would not draw Egypt into a military conflict with Israel. This wouldn't likely bring about a peace accord, but might allow the ministate in Gaza to become an Egyptian protectorate of sorts that could coexist with Israel for some time to come.

2011-11-03 00:00:00

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