Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.
The recently signed truce between Hamas and Israel is a few days old and, despite some relatively minor issues, seems to be holding up. While its not surprising that both parties have declared that they won this conflict, what is different is that, depending on one’s perspective, both are correct. Hamas can argue that it came out a winner because it showed that its rockets could reach within Israel while generating support from the international community against that nation’s non-proportional response while Israel showed that it can, and will, overwhelmingly respond to any attack and that it has the capability to deflect Hamas’ rockets through its Iron Dome system. Other winners in the conflict include the US who showed that it could still influence both parties and Iran who proved it could circumvent sanctions and supply its allies with equipment and technology.
However, the biggest winner in this crisis is Egypt whose newly-elected Prime Minister Morsi displayed his influence and diplomatic skills and proved that Egypt continues to be a major player on the world stage. Morsi has had to walk a real tightrope in this crisis because he had to ensure that he did not upset his primary constituency which overwhelmingly supports the Palestinians, listened to a military that has, and wants to continue to, work with Israel and placated a western world who was curious to see whether the new government would make any changes to Egypt’s foreign policy. On top of satisfying all these requirements, the prime minister’s actions also blunted criticism from the US Congress about military aid to Cairo and, given the country’s dire economic situation, that is a positive development indeed.
Of course, as is always the case in the Middle East, Morsi overplayed his hand and lost all the acquired goodwill by giving himself a bunch of new powers that free him from complete judicial oversight. He used the excuse that this needed to be done in order to overcome gridlock. Egyptians did not buy this reasoning and went on rampages that included burning down the Muslim Brotherhood’s offices in Suez, Port Said, and Ismailia. Morsi is a smart guy so I’m sure he’s aware that former-president Mubarak used pretty much the same justification to seize similar powers. The new prime minister may not have much self-awareness though, because, in addition to giving himself these new powers, he also ordered a re-trial of Mubarak for using violence against Arab Spring protestors – something Morsi may order if these protests continue.