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Egypt and its war on secret documents

December 8, 2023 at 11:49 am

The Sinai Peninsula is seen in this image from video shot from onboard the Space Shuttle Columbia on 26 January 2003. [NASA-TV/Getty Images]

Are the Egyptians right to express fear for Sinai due to the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip? In Don Quixote fashion, the regime in Cairo is fighting secret documents whose content is being leaked. Today, it is surrounded by many crises, not to mention the country’s deteriorating economic situation. Will it surrender to the mills of the American administration or resist? This is a legitimate question asked by every Egyptian today in light of Cairo’s feeling that there is a systematic Western policy aimed at surrounding it with crises, in order to subjugate it and push it to accept what is being prepared for it, especially after the Gaza Strip front has been ignited.

Israel resumed its aggression against the Gaza Strip on Friday 1 December, after a truce that lasted a week, during which dozens of prisoners and captives from both sides of the conflict were released. Israel rejected all mediation offered by the countries concerned with finding peaceful solutions to the war, led by Egypt. Egypt’s concerns with seeking to end the war and impose a permanent truce are related to the humanitarian situation of the Gazans, but they are also related to Cairo’s concerns that Israel will implement its old-new project of settling Palestinians in the Egyptian Sinai, in preparation for building an alternative country to Palestine for them.

British documents revealed that “Israel devised a secret plan in 1971 to deport thousands of Palestinians from Gaza to Al-Arish, north of Sinai.” After the Israeli army occupied Gaza, along with the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights, in the June 1967 war, the Gaza Strip became a security nuisance for Israel, and the refugee camps became crowded with hotbeds of resistance to the occupation. According to British estimates, the plan included the “forced transfer” of Palestinians to Egypt, in an attempt to reduce the severity of the guerrilla operations against the occupation and the security problems facing the occupying authority in the Gaza Strip. This is how the Israeli view of forced deportation was in the past. Today, 52 years after the plan, the vision has expanded, with the discovery of oil and gas reserves in the Gaza Sea, the worth of which was estimated at billions of dollars in 2000, and with that came Israel’s ambition to control them. Not only that, but the Israeli vision insists on activating the Ben Gurion Canal project linking the two seas, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, which is considered important for the Indian-Economic corridor towards Europe, as the canal is presented as a competitor to Egypt’s Suez Canal.

There is more than one reason for the Egyptian presidency to reject the forced “transfer” of the Palestinian people, especially since the documents are no longer secret, and are no longer just ink on a paper, but rather were revived with the administration of former US President Donald Trump through the “Deal of the Century”. Today, the Joe Biden administration is working, in full coordination with the Netanyahu government, to attack the Gazans with blood and fire, from northern Gaza to its south, and then to Sinai.

American pressure on Egypt did not begin with the Gaza War, but before that, as the US entered Cairo with its sanctions through the door of Russian-Egyptian cooperation. It seems that the US did not accept the secret deal that Egypt retracted, when the Washington Post revealed, citing a “leaked American secret document”, that Cairo secretly planned to supply Russia with tens of thousands of missiles. According to the newspaper, the document is one of dozens of secret documents that were leaked last September. It describes alleged conversations between President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and senior Egyptian military officials and refers to plans to supply Russia with artillery shells and gunpowder.

Read: Palestinians must determine future of Gaza but talks premature – Egypt FM

It is a war of secret documents on Cairo, as the US relied on tightening its noose on Egypt with the aim of subjugating it in accordance with its policies in the region to contain Russian influence there. Since former President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s decision to nationalise the Suez Canal in 1956, Washington has continued to practice a policy of state intimidation against it by putting pressure on international institutions, to deprive them of loans or obtaining the required support.

The US is exploiting all the opportunities available to it to create additional pressure on Egypt, which is why the American administration knew how to twist Cairo’s arm, i.e. through the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project. The US State Department has shown itself to be the main saviour of Egypt from “thirst”, through the strength of its influence on the government of Ethiopia. That is why Washington worked to support a diplomatic solution regarding the Ethiopian dam, in a way that protects Egypt’s water needs and supports the interests of all parties.

America is also aware how to manage the conflict with Egypt by surrounding it from Sinai to Sudan, where the ongoing civil war affects Egypt’s borders. The outbreak of war in Sudan has negative economic consequences on the economies of the region, as well as the financial institutions and multiparty banks that are exposed to it. The continuation of the war there, with US support for both sides of the conflict between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), undermines efforts aimed at bringing peace to Khartoum, and this is what is currently required.

A blanket of fire and chaos surrounds Cairo, threatening its national security. What has increased the pressure is that the Houthis in Yemen have targeted Israeli oil and commercial tankers or those owned by Israeli businessmen, or those with Israeli shareholders. This has prompted many naval shipping companies to divert their ships away from the Suez Canal, citing the situation in the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea.

We do not envy Egypt today over its position of resistance to the Western and Israeli projects, which they’ve begun implementing and the secret document revealed by Israel Hayom, that exposes the Minister of Strategic Affairs, Ron Dermer, is preparing a plan Netanyahu asked him for, which aims to reduce the number of Palestinian citizens in Gaza and move many of them to Sinai.

In the face of the war of documents waged against it, Cairo finds that rapprochement with Russia and China can free it from American and Israeli pressure, because it is the only alliance capable of obstructing the investigation into the secret documents, especially since they still insist on the principle of a two-state solution. This insistence is consistent with the statement issued by the Arab Islamic Summit in Riyadh last month.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 4 December 2023

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