Last year, Israel had three stable borders and one unstable border. Now that the Arab Spring has turned into Terror Summer, those numbers have flipped around. Israel’s border with Egypt has become as troubled as the Lebanese border. And the Syrian border is following close behind.
Obama had thought to use the Arab Spring as the linchpin of his reelection campaign, tying the unrest that brought down Mubarak to his Cairo speech. But the ugly turn of events in the region has him distancing himself from events instead.
The Arab Spring did not become the Soft Power alternative to the Bush Doctrine that his advisers expected it to be. Instead the economic protests exploited by State Department backed activists are sliding formerly pro-American countries into the Islamist camp.
The regional instability is most visible as its fracture points on the Israeli border.
The Arab Spring succeeded in dismantling the region’s only enduring Arab-Israeli peace accord. The Camp David Accords signed by Sadat and Begin had been used as a model for regional peace for decades. But with the Obama backed overthrow of Sadat’s successor, it has become worthless.
In troubled times the Muslim world seeks unity by finding external enemies to fight. And Israel has become Egypt’s negative consensus. Egyptian presidential candidates from all sides have disavowed the Camp David Accords. It is the one thing that liberals and the Muslim Brotherhood can agree on.
Mohamed ElBaradei was Obama’s man in Cairo, a board member of Soros’International Crisis Group and the choice of Western diplomats and reporters to replace Mubarak. But Egyptian voters weren’t biting. Desperate, ElBaradei leapfrogged Ayman Nour and other competitors who had already disavowed the Accords, by going one step further and threatening a war with Israel. ElBaradei’s warmongering bid for popularity showed how dangerous the post-Mubarak Egypt had become.
Sacrificing the Accords that brought some stability to the region in order to score political points in their election campaigns is a measure of how wildly irresponsible Mubarak’s successors are. And how wildly irresponsible the Obama administration’s actions in Egypt were.
Obama turned on Mubarak for political advantage. And Mubarak’s successors are turning on Israel for political advantage. But all this maneuvering could easily lead to war.
The abandonment of the Accords has sent a message to terrorist groups that the leadership in Cairo supports their agenda and is willing to play the role of the Lebanese government, as they act out the part of Hezbollah. And the Popular Resistance Committees, the group allegedly behind the terrorist attacks in Southern Israel, is closely tied to Hezbollah.
Egyptian troops are in the Sinai in violation of the Accords, and there has already been an incident between Israel and Egypt. The violence in the Sinai is tied to political instability in Cairo. The worse the instability gets, the worse the violence becomes.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the junta currently ruling Egypt, is facing a political backlash over its suppression of liberal protesters. The Council is at its weakest in domestic policy, but at its strongest in military affairs. The easiest way for it to score points is to stage an incident with Israel. Which Egyptian activists allege is exactly what happened in the firefight between Egyptian security officers and the Israeli army.
Egypt has recalled its ambassador and Israel is speeding up the construction of a border fence. Egyptian protests at the Israeli embassy culminated in a protester scaling the building to pull down the Israeli flag and replace it with the Egyptian flag to the cheers of the Egyptian media. And Iran is likely redirecting the money that it used to send to Hamas over to the PRC which has shown that it can successfully kill Israelis and push Egypt and Israel closer to war.
There is no way that this cycle of escalation can be broken as long as Egyptian politicians continue to disavow the Camp David Accords, while scoring political points by promoting regional instability. The destruction of the Camp David Accords has not only damaged relations between Israel and Egypt, it has undermined the very idea of the regional peace accord. If an accord cannot survive a change of government, then any peace treaty signed with an Arab state is worthless.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recognized this new reality by conceding that treaties can no longer be signed with states. Instead she’s championing treaties signed with “peoples”. This proposal carries with it a whiff of her infamous fake African proverb, “It Takes a Village”. A village can’t raise a child– and an entire people can’t sign a treaty. Only where there is no father, does a child have to be raised by a village. And only where there is no stable government, does a treaty have to be signed with a people.
The State Department expected that their pet activists would smoothly take power in Egypt after an internationally overseen election. They were wrong. And the blame stops at the top. A week after Obama told Mubarak to step down; he was replaced by a military junta. But this disaster goes back to the diplomats training ElBaradei’s activists to use the Otpor formula that overthrew Milosevic in Yugoslavia. The media broadcast the narrative that a handful of Twitter activists calling for human rights had removed a dictator from power. Now their narrative is unraveling.
Secular heroes like Wael Ghonim and Ayman Nour have made their pathetic obeisances to Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamist hatemonger. ElBaradei has also tried to kiss the Brotherhood’s ring. Even the media is no longer able to deny that the Brotherhood is in the driver’s seat of Egyptian politics. The alliances it makes will determine who rules Egypt. And Hamas is the Brotherhood by another name.
The Camp David Accords were one of the few good things that Carter ever did. And in a dubious achievement, Obama has managed to bring down the only good thing that the worst administration until his had done.
Jimmy Carter had his Iran, and now Obama has his Egypt. If the bloodshed that Iran has inflicted on its people and its region could be credited to Carter’s account– Obama deserves the credit for the violence exploding out of Egypt. And for the wars to come.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.