Thursday, July 25, 2013

Israel's New Hero Is Egypt's: General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi

Image grab from Egypt's state TV of Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, July 3, 2013.

By Ari Shavit

The New Israeli Hero is an Egyptian figure − General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. You don’t need an especially discerning eye to see the Israeli elite’s deep sympathy and barely concealed admiration for the commander of our large southern neighbor’s armed forces. The one who has just imprisoned the elected president who appointed him to his position.

While the U.S. administration’s stomach is turning at the headlong collision between General al-Sisi’s undemocratic enlightenment and Mohammed Morsi’s unenlightened democracy, Israel has no doubts
We’re all for Sisi. We’re all for the military coup d’etat. We’re all for the right of clean-shaven generals who were educated in America to end the rule of an elected, bearded leader, who was also educated in America and who was supposed to subordinate the generals to his authority.
The Israeli yearning for Sisi is two-fold. Looking out, we seek friendly dictators who will rule the hostile Arab masses surrounding us. But when we look in, many of us long for a supreme commander of our own who will limit the powers of the elected political leadership we loathe.

ISABEL KERSHNER of the New York Times, submitted the following piece:

... with Mr. Morsi’s ouster and the crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt this week, Israelis see the prospect of a return to what they view as a more reliable status quo, as well as a weakening of Hamas, the militant Islamic group that runs Gaza.
“What is important for Israel is a stable Egypt,” said Shaul Shay, a former deputy head of Israel’s National Security Council. “I don’t see the Muslim Brotherhood there swallowing the blow and waiting another 80 years to try to return to power. The story is not over, despite the fireworks in Cairo.”
While Mr. Morsi served as head of state, Israel’s only line of communication with Cairo was through the Egyptian military and security establishment, which is now controlling Egypt’s political process. Perhaps more reassuring to Israel is the role of Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the top commander who led the move to depose Mr. Morsi.
General Sisi is well known in Israel’s defense establishment from his past roles in military intelligence and in northern Sinai. An Israeli expert said that even after Mr. Morsi appointed General Sisi as his defense minister, the general’s office continued to communicate and coordinate directly with Israel.
Still, for some Israelis, the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood was reason enough to celebrate.
“It’s good that the Muslim Brotherhood has gone,” said Zvi Mazel, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt. “If they had stayed in power for another two or three years, they’d have taken control of the military and everything else, and Egypt would have become like Iran.”
Mr. Morsi did not radically shift Egyptian policy toward Israel, upholding Egypt’s commitment to the peace treaty. 
Under his authority, the Egyptian military acted in the volatile Sinai Peninsula against Islamic militants who had been attacking Egyptian forces in recent years and using the wild desert terrain to stage cross-border attacks against Israel. 
Israeli experts said Israeli-Egyptian security coordination over Sinai in the last year had been closer and more intense than during the era of Mr. Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.
Ehud Yaari, an Israel-based fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, described Egypt as “the sick man on the Nile,” adding, “A situation in which Egypt, a nation of 85 million people, is in danger of some kind of implosion is a horror scenario for all of us.”
Internal chaos would also be likely to further erode Egypt’s historic role as a leader of the Arab world, but Israeli analysts said its influence had already been in decline for years.
“Egypt is busy with its own domestic problems and is not much of an actor on the regional scene,” said Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv.

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