How Egypt's Sisi won the Gaza war

Writing for Al Monitor, Mahmoud Salem says:

Egypt's President Sisi inspects the guard of honour in Khartoum

The Israelis quickly realized that the situation this time was not business as usual. For the first time, due to the targeting of the Ben Gurion International Airport — a major economic lifeline for geographically isolated Israel — by Hamas rockets, the US Federal Aviation Administration and most of their European counterparts placed a temporary ban on air travel to Israel. The bombardment of Gaza also led to the highly underreported West Bank clashes, whose death tollcontinues to climb despite the cease-fire. Added to this, Egypt decided to change the role it plays every single time this conflict erupts. For the past 30 years, whether under Hosni Mubarak or Mohammed Morsi, Egypt would quickly sponsor a cease-fire to bring any serious fighting to an end. It was one of Mubarak’s main uses to both the United States and Israel, and it is what elevated Morsi’s profile and international credibility in 2012. This was the role Sisi was supposed to play, and by scoring this foreign policy win, it would consequently give him the international credibility he sorely needs since his election. But Sisi didn’t follow the script.

When the conflict started, Sisi had a number of objectives he wanted to achieve:

  • He sought to have Egypt unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza conflict and not allow either Israel or Hamas to export the responsibility of the Gaza humanitarian crisis to Egypt, which he believes is their aim.
  • He did not talk directly with Hamas, since talking to them would be difficult to justify to the public given his refusal to talk with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
  • He wanted to reduce Hamas’ influence in the conflict and reassert Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah as official representatives of the Palestinians.
  • He forced the United States to deal with him on his terms and renegotiate the US-Egypt relationship with terms more favorable to him.
  • He worked to reduce the roles of Qatar and Turkey as influential regional players.
  • He strived to attain all of the above while maintaining his image in the eyes of the Egyptian public.

Read more…

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About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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