One of the main reasons for the eruption of the 2011 revolution in Egypt was the people’s rejection of Israel’s control over the Hosni Mubarak government, particularly the police, army, judiciary and media. These are the four most influential aspects of the government.
Mubarak’s regime took a very pragmatic stance in regards to both Israel and resistance organisations such as Hamas. It played both sides, building up good relations with Israel as well as maintaining the pretence of being a moderate mediator with the Hamas-led Palestinian government in Gaza. However, the deposed president’s main agenda was to serve Israeli interests. It was a tool for both Israel and America to secure Israel’s existence in the region. It was crucial, therefore, for Mubarak to work hard on pleasing both the US and Israeli governments, not least by offering no resistance to Israel’s settlement programme, while keeping up the appearance of support for major Middle East issues, such as the Palestinians cause. This was to save face in the eyes of the Egyptian public.
The Mubarak government allowed anti-Israel sentiments to be voiced in the media along with socio-political protests against the Zionist state as an outlet for public anger and support for Palestine. The president also turned a blind eye to the tunnels under the border with the Gaza Strip which became a lifeline for the Palestinians suffering under the Israeli-led siege. Indeed, Mubarak’s government kept in touch with the Hamas government in Palestine. It was this sort of approach which was approved of by the Egyptian public and yet much more was going on behind the scenes to fulfil an Israeli agenda. Even so, Mubarak never went so far as to accuse the Palestinians of terrorism; he never attacked the besieged people of the Gaza Strip.
When Dr Mohammed Morsi was elected as president of the republic, Israel was clearly rattled. The Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo was perceived as a real threat by the Israelis; Hamas, of course, is an offshoot of the Brotherhood and had a smooth relationship with the Morsi government. The latter, determined the Israelis, had to go.
Past experience showed Israel how to go about this; how to buy the loyalty of the main influences on Egyptian society. Tel Aviv had a deep understanding of the chronic corruption which plagued Egypt and used this to achieve its aims, creating the “terrorist threat” myth through the anti-Morsi media and communal hatred on the streets.
Backed by money from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the police and army were roped in to ensure social unrest and “fabricated” terror attacks in the Sinai Peninsula. The aim was to create a general atmosphere of fear and intimidation and blame it on the Muslim Brotherhood.
President Morsi supported the people of Gaza by opening the border crossing at Rafah and providing them with much-needed fuel supplies. This was a bone of contention for the Israeli government, which wanted to maintain tight control over the siege of the beleaguered territory. It also provided ammunition for Morsi’s critics who warned of the “dangers” of keeping strong links with the Hamas government.
In the meantime, the media peddled myths and lies which defied logic. Morsi, it was claimed, was planning to sell the pyramids, for example. Amazingly, the public were so brainwashed that they believed such nonsense.
Since then, of course, the coup government has declared that the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are “terrorist” organisations. Brotherhood leaders are behind bars and its activities are illegal. Coup leader Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is working for the Israelis and Americans to destroy the Islamic movement and the Palestinian resistance. He has to get Israeli approval, no matter what the cost.
It is a fact that Israel will never allow the strongest and most influential Islamic organisation to hold the reins of power in the region, especially in Egypt due to its strategic position and role. Now we see the generation of Egyptians brought up to regard Palestine and Al-Aqsa Mosque to be the most important of issues being brainwashed into accepting Israel’s occupation of Arab land. Al-Sisi’s plan is to erase any and all anti-Israel feelings in Egypt and turn the people against the Palestinians.
Attacking and restricting Hamas was a necessity for the coup authorities, as was shutting the Rafah border crossing and destroying the lifeline tunnels, and the people have accepted the justifications provided by the government in Cairo. The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip now have no channels for getting even the most basic of supplies.
Al-Sisi and his government have played their role very well and are building up a good reputation with Israel and the US. The pro-coup Egyptian media has actually gone a step further by running an advertising campaign to boost Israeli tourism at a time when the Egyptian tourist industry is in tatters due to the political unrest.
Egypt’s reputation and credibility were shattered even further recently when the authorities refused to allow a group of international activists to leave Cairo Airport and go to Gaza where they had planned to stand in solidarity with Palestinian women on International Women’s Day. The mainly American and European women were deported instead.
The military-led government in Cairo is clearly expending all of its energy on pleasing Israel and gaining the trust of the right-wing government in Tel Aviv, which is pulling Al-Sisi’s strings as he dances to the Israeli tune. However, free Egyptians will not bend down to the Israelis and will not accept the current oppression to go on forever. They will refuse such betrayal and deceit because, for them, life with no dignity is not worth living.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.