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Does the Egyptian Government contain rational men?

January 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm

By Dr Hamdi Hassan

Decisions coming out of the Egyptian Government over the past week or so have illustrated perfectly the lack of rationality and consistency therein. Egypt’s national sovereignty matters when it is used to justify the building of a steel wall on the border with Gaza, but is strangely missing when it comes to allowing Israeli tourists to enter Sinai without visas; or allowing the Israeli navy to violate Egypt’s territorial waters in acts of piracy against relief ships. Will Egypt’s national sovereignty matter a jot if the governments of countries like Ethiopia wherein lie the sources of the Nile decide out of their own sense of national sovereignty to dam the great river and restrict the flow? Using the same “rational logic” as that put out by the Egyptians recently, they’d have every right to do so and Egypt could have no cause for complaint.

Exactly a year after the start of Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza, Egypt’s official position has been made very clear. Without any sense of shame it openly conspires and collaborates with the Israelis against the Palestinians, not only concerning the wall of shame but also in refusing entry to the Viva Palestina aid convoy and banning the march planned by Free Gaza activists who have arrived in Cairo from all over the world. This is the real, ugly, face of Egyptian politics which places Israeli security and interests way above the humanitarian catastrophe facing the people of Gaza. Egypt is, of course, a strategic ally of Israel having signed a peace treaty in the seventies, but since when have the Palestinians been enemies?

In refusing entry to the convoy on its planned route by ferry from Jordan, via Nuweiba, and giving it a deadline to drive back through Jordan and Syria then hire ships and sail from Syria to El-Arish at the other end of the Sinai peninsula, Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs is playing to the gallery and creating an impossible situation. Of course, if the convoy can’t meet this ridiculous deadline, the Egyptians can say, “We were going to allow the convoy in, but it didn’t get here in time”. This is cynical politics at its worst, and for whose benefit, the starving people of Gaza or the people creating the starvation, the Israelis? These are the same Israelis whose attacks on Egyptian civilians on the border between the two countries have killed at least seventy people; the same Israelis who use Egyptian airspace to drop bombs on the civilians of Gaza. What about Egyptian national security and sovereignty then Mr. Foreign Minister? What possible security threat is there in the convoy entering Egypt from the south of Sinai rather than the north? None whatsoever, but it gives the minister the chance to say that this is his game and if Viva Palestina doesn’t like it he will take his ball and go home.

There is one glimmer of hope that some sense of honour still survives within the corridors of power in Cairo. The Free Gaza marchers who demonstrated in front of their national embassies in the city should be grateful that they were not killed, as the Sudanese demonstrators were killed by Egyptian security forces when they held a demonstration in Mustafa Mahmoud Square. And that they weren’t treated like those Egyptians who have rallied in support of the people of Gaza. Thank heaven for small mercies.

The reasons given for, and the effects of, the steel wall being built by Egypt with French, American and Israeli support are now well-known. Where, though, is the Egyptian government’s concern for its national sovereignty when that wall is being built as part of the security agreement between Israel and the US – to which Egypt is not a party – but it is being built on Egyptian soil? Even the fact that a pipe carrying sea water to the site in order to “soften the soil” to make construction easier, which will contaminate wells in the area used by Egyptian citizens, does not deter the government from carrying out the orders of the US and Israel. British journalist Yvonne Ridley has called Egypt “Obama’s rent-boy”; how apt!

To the members of the government who are making these irrational decisions I would say this: you clearly have no knowledge or understanding of history. Israel and its paymaster the US will use you until their mission is over, and they have achieved their goals, then your end will be the same as that of Saad Haddad in Lebanon and Saddam Hussain; remember them? Look at the members of Fatah in the West Bank who laid down their arms after replacing resistance with negotiations in exchange for money and power, only to be gunned down in front of their families. Have you heard any condemnation of the latest assassinations in the West Bank from Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies? Remember this well, gentlemen, for you are being used for the time being, but your time will come and you will be discarded like everything else that has outlived its usefulness. This is a sad period in Egypt’s long history.

* Dr Hamdi Hassan is a member of the Egyptian parliament

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.