Israel Gaza conflict – wider war?

Members of the Israel Defense Forces on the Golan Heights. These are the real men of ideals in the Middle East. Zionism encompasses men like these, who act in defense.
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The Israel Gaza conflict broke out again this week. It has simmered for seven years, and hints of a breakout came when the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS in Arabic) seized power in Gaza and governed it their own way. Now the armies of Israel have had enough. But they also have evidence that Iranian advisers helped HAMAS this time. This war might become much wider, and involve all the Middle East.

Israel Gaza conflict: latest

Last week, HAMAS and HAMAS-allied militants fired 120 missiles from Gaza within four days. Yesterday, the Tzahal (In English, Israel Defense Forces, or IDF) scored a victory equal to the killing of Osama bin Laden. They killed Ahmed al-Jabari, the top military commander in Gaza. Al-Jabari won infamy by arranging the capture of Gilad Shalit in 2006 and negotiating the release of over a thousand “Palestinian” terrorists in exchange for him.

HAMAS responded with the most withering rocket attack in years. The Tzahal deployed Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to protect the Negev and the Mediterranean coast. Still, with more than 300 rockets fired, some rockets found their marks. One destroyed an apartment in Kiryat Malachi. The hit killed three adults and critically injured an infant.

Today, missiles hit targets as far north as Tel Aviv. One fell into Rishon-le-Tzion, just south of Tel Aviv. Another fell into the sea off the coast of Jaffa. (In the Israel War for Independence in 1948, half a million Arabs streamed out of Jaffa en masse, though the armies of Israel had offered to let them stay. They became the first “Palestinian refugees” arguing for a “right of return.” Tel Aviv annexed Jaffa a few years later.)

In the Israel Gaza conflict, the IDF warns Gaza civilians to stay away from military targets.

Text of leaflet that Israeli pilots dropped on Gaza neighborhoods, warning civilians to stay away from obvious targets. Graphic: Israel Defense Forces.

In contrast, outsiders guess that 16 people have died in Gaza from IDF air strikes. The IDF knows that HAMAS likes to launch missiles near residential developments. Israel uses aircraft to strike back. But now they are sending in ground troops. They also dropped leaflets on civilian neighborhoods:

For your own safety, take responsibility for yourselves and [stay away from] HAMAS operatives and facilities.

The most damning report came out in WND. Their sources told them that Iranian Revolutionary Guard advisers are helping HAMAS in this latest outbreak in the Israel Gaza conflict. In fact, an Iranian jihad group claimed credit for the missile that fell into Rishon-le-Tzion and presumably the missile that fell into the water off Jaffa.

Israel Gaza conflict: history

Seven years ago, the Tzahal withdrew all their troops from the Gaza Strip.  Rockets have rained on towns in the western Negev ever since. The hit in Rishon-le-Tzion suggests that HAMAS might now be getting better weapons. (And if the WND report is correct, we know where those weapons came from.)

The Tzahal counts more than 12,800 rockets that militants have launched from Gaza since 2001. 2008 is the worst year to date for such barrages, with 3278 missile launches. Obviously the Israel Gaza Conflict never ended. It simply suspended itself, like the sitzkrieg at the start of the Second World War.

Now sitzkrieg has become blitzkrieg. And the Tzahal has answered swiftly. And no wonder: Israel’s leaders know they stand alone. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran threatens to annihilate Israel in every speech he makes. Barack Obama, (putative) President of the United States, is, if anything, sympathetic to the Iranians and HAMAS, not to the Israelis.

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil of Egypt plans to visit Gaza tomorrow. He and his boss, President Mohammed Mursi, belong to the Muslim Brotherhood. The problem: HAMAS is a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, and always has been. Qandil might have the job, not to quieten the Israel Gaza Conflict, but to incite it. Now the world will find out whether Mursi and Qandil will act like responsible national leaders, or terrorists like those who “fragged” Anwar al-Sadat when he negotiated the Camp David Treaty.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews keeps this live-update page on the Israel Gaza Conflict.

Members of the Israel Defense Forces on the Golan Heights. Will these men take part in the Israel Gaza Conflict?

Two Tzahal (Israel Defense Force) soldiers walk casually on the Golan Heights. Photo: CNAV.

In 2002 and again in 2011, Yair Lapid wrote in anguish that being an Israeli means listening to idle talk about going back into Gaza. (The site Terre Promise no longer hosts the original French-language essay, but CNAV translated it, after Terre Promise allowed it. CNAV followed up with a parallel essay from the perspective of a recent visitor to Israel.) Obviously, Lapid knew what the Israel Gaza Conflict really meant.

Thus far, the Tzahal promises no more than the largest smash-and-grab raid of all time, to capture or destroy the stockpiles of missiles, weapons, and ammunition that HAMAS has. But that won’t settle the Israel Gaza Conflict. The IDF might have to take Gaza back, just as Yair Lapid half urged them to do, United Nations or no. Especially if Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen now turn out to be standing side-by-side with HAMAS and other militants as they launch their missiles.

The IDF has its own problem. They’re using American planes. Why? Because no other country will build planes for them, and the Americans do not want them building their own. (The Lavi affair is the case in point.) The IDF needs to take the lesson from 1 Samuel 13:19-23, about depending on foreign industries. Because they’ll soon find out whether the United States still wants to be their ally, when the time comes to get spare parts or, worse yet, replacements for the aircraft they’re about to lose.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

25 Responses to Israel Gaza conflict – wider war?

  1. Fergus Mason says:

    “scored a victory equal to the killing of Osama bin Laden.”

    Uh, no.

    “Iranian Revolutionary Guard advisers are helping HAMAS”

    Is anyone even vaguely surprised about this?

    “The IDF might have to take Gaza back”

    That’s exactly what Hamas want them to do. It would be a PR disaster and a constant drain of blood and money. What Israel should do is lift the blockade, recognise Hamas and offer them any help they can short of giving them Israeli land. Haman survive by blaming Israel for Gaza’s problems and Israel make it easy for them. That is not a useful long-term survival strategy.

    “Why? Because no other country will build planes for them”

    There are only four entities even remotely capable of building top-quality modern combat aircraft, and Israel isn’t one of them. If they want modern aircraft they have to get them from the USA, Eurofighter, France or Russia. Russia is a non-starter, they’ve blown their defence relationship with France by forgetting that the price for French weapons is staying well clear of French foreign policy, and Eurofighter won’t risk losing the Arab market. Israel will be buying US aircraft as long as it has an air force.

  2. TheEgyptian says:

    Yesterday, the Tzahal (In English, Israel Defense Forces, or IDF) scored a victory equal to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

    They really didn’t. Jabari can easily be replaced. He was a steady hand, but no genius. All it does it perpetuate a cycle.

    negotiating the release of over a thousand “Palestinian” terrorists in exchange for him.

    Are you suggesting they were not Palestinians? Evidence for this?

    HAMAS responded with the most withering rocket attack in years. The Tzahal deployed Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to protect the Negev and the Mediterranean coast. Still, with more than 300 rockets fired, some rockets found their marks. One destroyed an apartment in Kiryat Malachi. The hit killed three adults and critically injured an infant.Today, missiles hit targets as far north as Tel Aviv. One fell into Rishon-le-Tzion, just south of Tel Aviv. Another fell into the sea off the coast of Jaffa.

    Yay for missile defence, eh?

    The most damning report came out in WND. Their sources told them that Iranian Revolutionary Guard advisers are helping HAMAS in this latest outbreak in the Israel Gaza conflict.

    Shock horror.

    Seven years ago, the Tzahal withdrew all their troops from the Gaza Strip. Rockets have rained on towns in the western Negev ever since. The hit in Rishon-le-Tzion suggests that HAMAS might now be getting better weapons. (And if the WND report is correct, we know where those weapons came from.)

    It really doesn’t. Partially luck, partially learning from experience. Hamas rockets have been hitting Beersheba for years, and the distance is not significantly greater. OTOH, they were probably aiming for Tel Aviv so it really isn’t that much of a coup. Where do the weapons come from? Rockets are domestically produced in Gaza. Rocket science is ironically enough, not that complicated when your objectives are fairly modest and you have an experience base on which to build. The Katyusha design has been produced in Gaza for years, so they have the production off to a fine art. Other arms as well as raw materials for the rockets come from Arab and Israeli smuggling gangs in Sinai. Iranian interest is present but is less than is generally imagined. Hezbollah and Syria are their main vassals. Hamas has traditionally been an Israeli vassal for use against the PLO / Fatah as part of a divide and rule strategy. Israel is not going to crush Hamas now, just engage in theatrics and make a point. Crushing Hamas would be completely counter productive.

    The Tzahal counts more than 12,800 rockets that militants have launched from Gaza since 2001. 2008 is the worst year to date for such barrages, with 3278 missile launches. Obviously the Israel Gaza Conflict never ended. It simply suspended itself, like the sitzkrieg at the start of the Second World War.

    It’s a show, not a war. We are going through the motions, and will do so again. In terms of destruction and suffering it is a war, but there is no military objective and no victory. It is just a deadly act of political theatre. Sit back, bring the popcorn and appreciate the special effects.

    Now sitzkrieg has become blitzkrieg. And the Tzahal has answered swiftly. And no wonder: Israel’s leaders know they stand alone.

    No they don’t. As long as they are useful and fill the right pockets with goodies, the US will continue to indulge their theatrical temper tantrums like bad parents do with spoilt kids.

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran threatens to annihilate Israel in every speech he makes.

    That’s not new. Most Iranian presidents of the post-79 era have made similar overtones. No one really cares that much, and it’s common political knowledge than Iran is more interested in keeping Israel preoccupied than it is with “eliminating” them, to free up space in Lebanon and Syria for itself.

    Barack Obama, (putative) President of the United States, is, if anything, sympathetic to the Iranians and HAMAS, not to the Israelis.

    Er, no.

    Prime Minister Hisham Qandil of Egypt plans to visit Gaza tomorrow. He and his boss, President Mohammed Mursi, belong to the Muslim Brotherhood. The problem: HAMAS is a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, and always has been. Qandil might have the job, not to quieten the Israel Gaza Conflict, but to incite it. Now the world will find out whether Mursi and Qandil will act like responsible national leaders, or terrorists like those who “fragged” Anwar al-Sadat when he negotiated the Camp David Treaty.

    Hamas is also a friend of Mossad and has been so semi-openly all along, as have the Egyptians since the 70s. There is no right and wrong and good and evil here. Everyone is playing the game and everyone knows very well that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Fatah is a more real threat to Israeli hegemony over the West Bank than Hamas, and so has every reason to work with Hamas to destabalise Fatah / PLO. The Egyptians are ambiguous toward Hamas, but essentially are adopting a “better the devil you know” position and are crossing their fingers and hoping that Fatah will cut a deal to help keep the Arabs in Sinai in line, because the Egyptians sure as hell can’t do it themselves. (The Israelis are pretty much aware of that and are doubtless tacitly hoping them same thing – and you can bet good money that Hamas co-operation – at least nominally – toward that end are a big part of negotiations in Cairo)

    Thus far, the Tzahal promises no more than the largest smash-and-grab raid of all time, to capture or destroy the stockpiles of missiles, weapons, and ammunition that HAMAS has. But that won’t settle the Israel Gaza Conflict.

    No one wants to settle it. Why would they want that?

    The IDF might have to take Gaza back, just as Yair Lapid half urged them to do, United Nations or no.

    Unlikely in the long term. The ultimate aim is to leave Gaza pretty much as is, and focus on bantustan-ing the WB. Hamas and Israel are both pretty much on the same song sheet in the long term – unless Fatah pulls a rabbit out of the hat and surprises everyone, but at present it is more likely Fatah will get on board in return for a turning a blind eye to the tax pile in Ramallah and control of the WB Zone A.

    Especially if Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen now turn out to be standing side-by-side with HAMAS and other militants as they launch their missiles.

    Doesn’t work like that in reality, not that anyone would really care.

    The IDF has its own problem.

    They have many, not least that the people shooting at them are actually being supported by their own government. C’est la vie.

    They’re using American planes. Why? Because no other country will build planes for them, and the Americans do not want them building their own. (The Lavi affair is the case in point.) The IDF needs to take the lesson from 1 Samuel 13:19-23, about depending on foreign industries. Because they’ll soon find out whether the United States still wants to be their ally, when the time comes to get spare parts or, worse yet, replacements for the aircraft they’re about to lose.

    Actually I disagree with Fegus here. The Russians have supplied equipment to Israel in the post-Soviet era (and Saudi Arabia), in both cases in return for not supplying it to Iran, interestingly enough. IAI also offers support services for Russian equipment to third parties. However there are many reasons the Israeli air force hasn’t shifted to Russian equipment.

    1. Air forces have long term institutional cultures, and aircraft have long lifetimes and create a huge support network and bank of exeprtise – you don’t just change suppliers if you can possibly avoid it. It is hugely disruptive and would adversely effect performance for a long time. You don’t change suppliers unless there is a strong political imperative, and that just doesn’t exist.

    2. The USA is only too happy to supply planes for for free through aid packages. Russia wants money for their planes.

    3. As a vassal state, Israel has no real power to choose another provider without a yank on her chain. By and large vassals have to buy the kit of their suzerain.

    As such, Israel neither wants to – nor can it – shift from dependency on US equipment for the majority of it’s military.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      If you doubt that Barack Obama’ sympathies lie with Arabs and Muslims against Jews, just look at the shabby way he treated PM Netanyahu in 2011. At best, HAMAS has proved a political and diplomatic embarrassment to him now.

      And for the record, I don’t buy your they’re-all-alike conspiracy theory. What are you, some kind of Nine-eleven Truther?

      • Fergus Mason says:

        “just look at the shabby way he treated PM Netanyahu in 2011”

        That was throughly merited. Netanyahu turned up in Washington and started briefing against the President, using all his lobbyists to persuade the US government do something it didn’t want to. He got slapped down, as he should have been. Netanyahu isn’t a valued ally of the USA; in fact he’s never done anything to assist US interests. He shouldn’t be surprised if his behaviour has consequences. No other western leader, even pro-Israel ones like Chancellor Merkel, likes him either.

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          You don’t have to like him. You just have to accord him the respect due the only country in the entire Middle East with a proper democracy, the only country that enjoys any degree of prosperity, and the one country that enjoys Divine favor today. And of course Barack Hussein Obama does not want to do a G_d-d____d thing to assist the Republic of Israel in any way, shape or form. But God has, within the United States, a remnant, of which I am a proud member, who have not befouled themselves with anti-Semitism, as Obama has. First Kings, chapter 19, verse 18, paraphrase. Look it up.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “You don’t have to like him. You just have to accord him the respect due the only country in the entire Middle East with a proper democracy,”

            That respect belongs to Israel, not to Netanyahu. If he wants respect as a person he has to earn it, and with his grubby lobbying activities he has conspicuously failed to do so.

            “the only country that enjoys any degree of prosperity”

            Kuwait and the UAE both looked fairly prosperous last time I was there.

            “one country that enjoys Divine favor today.”

            Irrelevant. Before we worry about who the gods favour we need evidence that they exist.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “And of course Barack Hussein Obama does not want to do a G_d-d____d thing to assist the Republic of Israel in any way, shape or form.”

            Why should he? What’s Israel ever done to assist either him or the USA during his administration? If Benny wants favours (beyond the $4.3 billion annual assistance and preferential access to military technology that he already gets) he can start earning them like everyone else has to.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            I don’t expect anyone in the Republic of Israel to do a favor for Obama personally. But Israel’s ambassadors side with the United States in ninety percent of all contentious resolutions before the UN General Assembly. That at least shows the kind of friends they always have been. A President needs to think about what a friend has done, or what kind of friend a country has been, in all of history, not just two years into that President’s first term.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “I don’t expect anyone in the Republic of Israel to do a favor for Obama personally.”

            Neither do I. However not timing the announcement of new settlements to embarrass the leader of your patron would be a nice touch that I’m sure President Obama would have appreciated. Not building new settlements at all would go down even better.

            “But Israel’s ambassadors side with the United States in ninety percent of all contentious resolutions before the UN General Assembly.”

            In return for what the USA has done in the Security Council and in terms of financial and military backing, 99% would be disgracefully low.

            “A President needs to think about what a friend has done, or what kind of friend a country has been, in all of history”

            So, then, France is the USA’s most important ally? Israel (along with the UK and France) should shape their policies towards the USA based on your betrayal of us all at Suez? Or perhaps Obama was thinking about Operation Susannah, the Liberty incident and Jonathan Pollard?

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            As you know, I have covered the settlements issue before. I have shown you, whether you care to recognize it or not, that those settlements are perfectly legitimate. I have shown that the Republic of Israel would, in a world of rational discourse, be perfectly within its rights to annex Judea and Samaria completely. And as for Gaza, that is the last of the original Five Cities of the Philistines. And those the present inhabitants are Arabs, and not Cretan-Caphthorites, their attitude recalls exactly the arrogant attitude of the original Lords of the Five Cities in Samson’s day. Which is why what Israel should have done this time is bring the house down on the tormentors of those who live in the Negev.

            France is the worst example of an ally in all the annals of diplomacy. Avec un tel ami, qui a besoin des enemis?

            What betrayal at Suez are you talking about?

            Operation Susannah is irrelevant today. The radical Muslims aren’t concerned with a sixty-year-old operation. They’re only concerned with the imperative for world conquest that Muhammad gave them.

            I have already discussed the incident involving USS Liberty, for which, as I say again, the US Navy must take its share of the blame. For sending an ELINT ship into someone else’s war zone.

            Jonathan Pollard really strikes a nerve with you, doesn’t he? Funny. I never considered him in the came caliber as Elie Cohn. I’d commute his sentence to exile in a heartbeat if I were in the White House.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “I have shown that the Republic of Israel would, in a world of rational discourse, be perfectly within its rights to annex Judea and Samaria completely.”

            Your opinion, however, is at variance with international law and what practically everyone else on Earth thinks. The settlement issue is bleeding Israel’s support away, even in the USA. To continue that policy is not in Israel’s interests. In fact it’s borderline insane.

            “And as for Gaza, that is the last of the original Five Cities of the Philistines.”

            So what?

            “France is the worst example of an ally in all the annals of diplomacy.”

            Without an alliance with France the USA would today be the southern provinces of the Dominion of Canada. Remember what you said about looking at the whole history…?

            “What betrayal at Suez are you talking about?”

            So you’re not aware that in 1956 the USA turned on its allies and used IMF vetoes and oil embargoes (in conjunction with Saudi Arabia) to force Britain, France and Israel to withdraw from the Suez Canal Zone?

            “Operation Susannah is irrelevant today.”

            Sorry, what? Let me quote you: “A President needs to think about what a friend has done, or what kind of friend a country has been, in all of history”

            “The radical Muslims aren’t concerned with a sixty-year-old operation. They’re only concerned with the imperative for world conquest that Muhammad gave them.”

            Irrelevant. We’re talking about what President Obama might have taken into account.

            I have already discussed the incident involving USS Liberty, for which, as I say again, the US Navy must take its share of the blame.”

            That share equates to none whatsoever.

            “For sending an ELINT ship into someone else’s war zone.”

            Yawn. USS Liberty was sailing quite legally in international waters. She had every right to be there and as a non-combatant vessel was under the protection of the Laws of Armed Conflict.

            “Jonathan Pollard really strikes a nerve with you, doesn’t he?”

            Traitors do, in general. I despise them.

            “I’d commute his sentence to exile in a heartbeat if I were in the White House.”

            Whereas I would have him stood against a wall, blindfolded and shot.

  3. TheEgyptian says:

    The show is over, and we are all back exactly where we started. So much for Terry’s war-porn prophecies.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Only postponed, Mr. Egyptian, only postponed. Ask any IDF reservist. Ask a young man with family living in Beersheba.

      • TheEgyptian says:

        That’s Ms. TheEgyptian, Terry ;)

        Anyway, I agree we’ll be back here in a few years, just as we have been before. The show will be replayed because that’s the nature of the Egyptian-Hamas-Sinai-Israeli love square. And when we come back to this, it is very unlikely that anything significant will have changed, and it’ll be just another re-run of the same brief yet pointless murderfest.

        • Fergus Mason says:

          “And when we come back to this, it is very unlikely that anything significant will have changed”

          Sadly I don’t think that’s quite correct. With the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the increasing demographic weight of Israel’s equally demented Haredim, by the time we get to this situation again there will be more crazies on both sides. That’s not historically been good news; religious fundamentalists have a poor record at avoiding war.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            Your analysis might have a bigger problem than you might see at first. Haredi Jews tend not to get educations, and also try to get out of the draft. One of the major obstacles that PM Netanyahu had to overcome, was what to do about the Haredim and their incessant demands for exemption. I see no dedicated executioners here.

            But on the Muslim side…!

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “Haredi Jews tend not to get educations, and also try to get out of the draft.”

            Yes, that’s a big problem and one that I hear a lot about from Israelis. All their exemptions should simply be ended, right now, before they have the demographic power to become more of a squalid nuisance than they already are.

            “I see no dedicated executioners here.”

            Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir, to name but two. Nut jobs. Maniacs. Dangerous idiots who were every bit as bad as any Islamist suicide bomber.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            Granting the accuracy of your accusations about those two men, that does not strike me as typical Haredi behavior. The Haredi seem to me to be more equivalent to the Society of Friends of the Truth (“Quakers”) than what you seem to think they are: Sternists, or Irgunists.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “Granting the accuracy of your accusations about those two men, that does not strike me as typical Haredi behavior.”

            Oh, I agree. However there’s nothing in Haredi culture that prevents it. The entirely accurate accusations against Goldstein and Amir show that.

            “The Haredi seem to me to be more equivalent to the Society of Friends of the Truth (“Quakers”) than what you seem to think they are”

            I’d actually say they’re more like trainspotters; obsessed, to a degree that passes any rational understanding, about utter trivia. However even trainspotters can become aggressive in the right circumstances…

            “Sternists, or Irgunists.”

            Those scum were largely non-Haredim. In fact they were mostly educated, secular and left-wing. The Haredim probably don’t belong on the political spectrum at all. Many of them are harmless. Many more though, including most of the politically active ones, are dangerous – occasionally genocidal – bigots.

          • TheEgyptian says:

            @Fergus: From the Egyptian side, I think you are overestimating the amount of power the brotherhood really holds. The situation in Egypt is more anarchic than is generally realised. The NDP era old guard of the military continue to hold the loyalty of the bulk of the army, and the Brotherhood’s move to purge some of their top generals has only solidified the resolve of military as a whole to resist any attempt to bring them to the brotherhood’s heel.

            The cannibalistic fight over the military has led to a dramatic decrease in operational effectiveness. Whilst this has made the institution more unstable – as seen when by the largely symbolic actions in the Sinai of trying to suppress arab criminal gangs there – it generally precludes any serious external military adventurism. All Egyptian generals are acutely aware that their effective military capacity has in real terms deteriorated in many areas – and at trod water – since 1973.

            Economically, the Brotherhood is aware that huge sections of the economy remain in the hands of NDP era big men, including the military who control at least 25% of the official economy, and probably around 33%. Much of this is strategically important, including agriculture and water, sugar refining, oil and gas, telecoms, construction, cement and military hardware. Since the Brotherhood has largely relied on it’s ability to give handouts to the populace in the past, and bribes in the present to keep key groups loyal, it needs the cash – which is where life is interesting.

            The Brotherhood itself has major internal divisions between the ideological hardcore, seeking an alliance with the Salafi movement, and the politically educated “moderates” who are seeking to take over the NDP gravy train and essentially protecting the existing system with themselves as ultimate benefactors, whilst bringing on board as many NDP on guard as necessary to keep things rolling – dividing the goodies as necessary. The West and Isreal are both keen to embrace this faction, as to some extent are the Egyptian public, who are wary of the Salafis – as evidenced by the election results.

            This is why I don’t think we’ll see much change. The fundamentalists in the brotherhood are noisy and ambitious, but have set themselves up too hard against the extant forces to really face much hope of success. Unlike the hard-right in Israel, they not a necessary evil for the mainstream politicians to pander to, at least to such an extent. This doesn’t mean I think the Brotherhood will expel them or make war on them, but rather that they will remain a fringe element in the main brotherhood body for some time to come, with a quite fluid exchange of membership between fundamentalist fringe and the true Salafi parties. Where pandering does take place (and some will and already has) we are seeing it in the social sphere, i.e. removal of women’s rights, alcohol laws, Ramadan trading rules etc.

            In constitutional, foreign and defense policy, the Brotherhood will be in deep conflict with the military for one-upmanship for some time to come before a final accommodation is reached between them, but there is little real doubt that it will be an old guard-moderate brotherhood alliance of some description. These two factions are by far the most powerful national level actors, even if their ability to enforce their will in Sinai and the Western Deserts is still severely limited compared to the already tenuous grip Mubarak had on them.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            I see. What you said above, suggests that the IDF could have the Sinai, or at least the land from the present Camp David Treaty Line to the Wadi al-Arish, for a mid-day snack any time anyone on the Egyptian side was foolish enough to provoke them. (The Wadi al-Arish, and not the Nile, is the promised southwestern border of the Promised Land, and the original southwestern border to which David, King of All Israel, pressed his conquests.) Perhaps you’d like to comment on what would happen if, for whatever provocation or other reason, the IDF decided to try to annex any of that land.

  4. TheEgyptian says:

    @Terry: Why the hell would Israel want to start a war with one of the only two countries in the region it has a solid peace deal with? And if we are to let the insanity slip, then why engage in an even more absurd proposal to attempt to draw a defensive line through some of the most mountainous terrain in the area, which is controlled by a populace with a centuries if not millenia long tradition of banditry and insurrection? And in return for what? The aim of Israel in taking Sinai was to deprive Egypt of it’s buffer zone by securing bridgeheads on the Suez isthmus, and to gain access to the oil and gas supplies of the western Sinai region and the Gulf of Suez.The eastern Sinai, by contrast, has no real interest to anyone not involved in people trafficking, gun running or drug smuggling.

    It has insignificant natural resources, the topography from hell, and the local population operate as autonomous bandit polities, which renders the place is valueless territory from which only low level insurrection, terrorism and crime would be the only gain.

    That’s something even Likud would think twice before ripping up a peace treaty for. It’s not even pointless, it’s doubly counter-productive, like punching yourself repeatedly and violently in the head in return for stealing dog mess your neighbors garden to put in yours.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Just how solid is the Camp David Accord today? With Muhammad Morsi threatening in every other speech to break it? Now you’ve basically said that he daren’t break that treaty, because the Egyptian military won’t let him. But that’s a mighty slender reed to base your security on.

      And remember: I asked you to consider what would happen if the IDF moved into the Sinai with provocation or for other clearly obvious reason. That’s not the same as a deliberate decision to attack totally without provocation.

      You do go on to suggest that the lands between the Camp David Treaty line and the Wadi al-Arish is presently of no economic value, and maybe of no strategic value, to anyone. In reply, I remind you that you could have described the entire Land of Israel in such stark terms, before the earliest kibbutzniks planted eucalyptus in the swamps and did other things to make the desert, and the swamp, not only bloom but to bring forth abundant fruits and vegetables, among other things. What’s to hinder the Israelis, who are the best agronomists in the civilized world (and routinely open-source all their agricultural techniques), from turning that region into a garden spot?

      FYI: the Consul-General of Israel, speaking from his consulate in Los Angeles, CA, told a conference call (sponsored by Christians United for Israel) that before the IDF got out of Gaza, Israel did turn the region into a garden, and one of the foremost exporters of organic fruits and vegetables. Then the IDF left, and HAMAS destroyed the farming infrastructure and put in missile emplacements. Do you deny that? And if not, why can’t the Wadi al-Arish and its watershed, or at least its right bank, become a similar garden spot?

    • Fergus Mason says:

      “it’s doubly counter-productive, like punching yourself repeatedly and violently in the head in return for stealing dog mess your neighbors garden to put in yours.”

      I am in awe of that sentence, and I write for a living. Kudos, Egyptian.

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