Yes. This question seems odd and the answer even odder. Nowadays, some people ask if the liberation of Palestine is necessary, as people are preoccupied with their internal wars; Sunni vs. Shi’ite, Islamists vs. Secularists. Some are busy with economic development and making a living. Despite the danger of my implied accusations of selfishness, I argue that defeating Israel is possible and that a confrontation with it and the US is a requirement for unhindered economic growth and social justice in Egypt and the Arab world as a whole. The world is changing and our opportunity is here, but we must make sure we do not miss it while some of us are busy fighting each other.
First: the world is currently witnessing the largest process of shifting the revolution from the west to the east, i.e. from Europe and the US to China, India, and eastern Asia. According to a number of reports published by American research centres, including the National Intelligence Council, in approximately the next 10 years China will be the second largest economy and will have the second largest military budget in the world. It will need to expand its markets and will need more petrol and gas, which will lead to its desire to diversify its energy sources in order for it not to remain reliant on the sources controlled by the US. In other words, relations between China and Iran, Russia, and the central Asian countries will strengthen because these oil and gas producing countries are able to supply China without the permission of the United States. Moreover, energy supplies from these countries will be done through ground pipelines, without the need to pass through the seas and straits controlled by the US and its allies.
Second: Russia will need China, Iran, Iraq, and Syria to access the Mediterranean Sea, because all the trade done through other Russian ports must pass through NATO controlled straits, whether from the Baltic Sea through the Denmark straits to the North Sea then Atlantic Ocean, or from the Black Sea, through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, which are also controlled by NATO. As for Russia’s northern and eastern coasts in Siberia, they are technically part of the North Pole and cannot be used for trade. Russia’s need for the Middle East after losing the Balkans and the Adriatic Coast in the 90’s is a vital need in order for it not to become a confined country without ports suitable for trade or defence. This means that the Chinese-Iranian-Russian alliance will become stronger in the next 10 years on account of Washington’s control over the area.
Third: The political impact of the American financial crisis will last throughout the upcoming years, as Washington still does not have the financial ability or political desire to engage in a long-term regional war in the Middle East or East Asia, nor does it want to directly challenge the Chinese-Russian alliance, or have enough power in India to force the latter to rehash its old conflict with China. Although New Delhi likes to anger Beijing, it does not want to anger Moscow as well, in addition to the fact that Islamabad is a friend of Beijing that is always prepared to support it. This relative isolation of America gives us the chance to fearlessly get rid of an alliance imposed on us with Washington.
Fourth: There have been some demographic developments in our favour in our region. First, 40 per cent of the Turkish and Iranian population will be classified in the 25-40 age group, the age group costing the country the least in terms of health care and education and the most productive age group that can provide for others. The Iranian and Turkish demographic development increase the likelihood of their continued economic improvement. Moreover, America’s sanctions against Iran hasn’t caused great harm to Iran due to what I mentioned earlier regarding Iran’s trade on the ground with Russia and China, without America being able to hinder it. There is also the fact that Iran’s bank sanctions drove it to increase its gold reserve, and we know that if a country increases its gold reserve then its dependence on foreign currencies, especially the Dollar, decreases so its economy is not linked to the American economy. As for Egypt, 40 per cent of the population will be in the 18 – 25 age group. After this the same percentage is in the under 15 age group, meaning the percentage of youth in Egypt will be higher than the percentage of children, increasing production potential and alleviating the burdens of providing for them. This also increases Egypt’s fighting potential, and its ability for revolutionary work. In Palestine, the Arabs will outnumber the Jewish people in the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River by about 2 million in the next 10-15 years, and the problem of demographic containment will put pressure on the Israeli security and economic institutions. This will also increase the possibility of an outbreak of armed rebellion by the Palestinians, not only limited to the West Bank and Gaza, but the entire country from the Sea to the River.
Fifth: The current and successive Egyptian leadership, whether Islamic or secular, will realise sooner or later that the Turkish model cannot be applied in Egypt. The Turkish model, in short, is development through alliances with the West, then gradually leaving these alliances through the appropriate democratic means. I say that this model cannot be applied in Egypt due to the difference in geographic location between the two countries. A strong Turkey would mean a hindrance to Russia’s access to the Black Sea and the Balkans, making its relative strength a western interest. This was true in the 19th, 20th, and beginning of the 21st century until WWI, when the allies’ interests depended on keeping Turkey relatively strong and in control of the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits in order to act as an obstacle in the face of Russian expansion. However, based on its geographical location, a strong Egypt would pose a threat to Israel, as well as the oil and shipping in the Suez Canal. Therefore, despite being an ally of the West for 40 years, Egypt continues to become poorer, and unlike Turkey, America’s alliance with Egypt does not aim to strengthen it, rather weaken it, because Egypt is not a tool for America to strengthen in order to weaken others, rather it is a target to be weakened. The worst part of this alliance is that the more the West is reassured that Egypt will not rebel against it, the less its share of the international economy is and the poorer it gets. It is as if Egypt is a factory producing security and stability in the Suez Canal and Israel area, and the more it produces, the cheaper it becomes. Therefore, Mubarak’s value in Washington decreased because he was a loyal ally and gave it what it wanted.
Sixth: The biggest challenge of taking advantage of all these developments is for it not to turn into a battle against Israel, or a battle between the Sunnis and Shi’ites in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. In a war between the Sunnis and Shi’ites, no one will emerge as the victor, and it is certainly not a means of development. Therefore, we must find a solution that immediately ends the bloodshed and establish an elected democratic regime away from tyranny, which preserves the unity of the country, its factions, its international and regional alignment, and prevents the spill over of violence into Lebanon and Iraq to unify us as one nation. Although there are criminals in both groups, there are also innocent and oppressed people from both groups. Israel is the enemy and Egypt, Syria, and Iraq will never grow under the sponsorship of America; confrontation is the only means of development.
The author is a Palestinian writer and poet. This article is a translation from the Arabic version which appeared on shorouknews.com, 23/4/2013
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.