This much was clear to me from the beginning of this whole affair, but perhaps I should have aired my enlightened and apparently correct opinion here earlier so that I could prove it to everyone.
Israel was eliminating Hamas in Gaza in order to do Egypt a favor. The public statements made by Egypt today confirm this. Read the article linked above.
Israel’s embarrassing campaign in Southern Lebanon in 2006 made it very clear to all neighboring Arab states that Iran’s influence–as exercised by proxy Islamist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas–posed significant threats to the Arab states and the sovereignty of their governments. The war against Hezbollah completely derailed Lebanon’s recovery from its devastating civil war. In essence, Iran was perfectly willing to sacrifice the entire nation of Lebanon for the sake of its influence in the middle east.
This recklessness on the part of Iran was not lost on the Arab states, for once. Even Syria began to realize that further strengthening of Hezbollah would undermine Bashar Asaad’s tenuous grasp on power and, hence, Syrian sovereignty. Ultimately, this is what prompted Syria to soften its stance on Israel and to collaborate, albeit surreptitiously, with the west.
Egypt acted in the same vein. The full cooperation that Egypt provided (in the form of a total blockade of Gaza) in Israel’s campaign betrayed Egypt’s intent. Egypt’s long battle with Islamist fringe groups (most prominently with Ikhwan Al Mosalman, the group that spawned Ayman Al Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden‘s right hand man) rages still, and Iran’s ridiculous use of Hezbollah as a proxy force in Lebanon made Egypt realize that it is vulnerable to Iran’s ploys for influence in the middle east. Consequently, it acted with complete accord with Israel toward the total annihilation of Hamas.
It would be an exceptionally foolish mistake to confound Egypt’s desire for the destruction of Hamas as any sort of empathy, sympathy, or affection for Palestinians. Egypt is acting in the interest of nation and the preservation of its sovereignty. Any benefit that this might bring Palestinians–whose entire misery stems from the simple fact that no political entity (not even their own) has ever advocated their cause–would be purely ancillary. Egypt may well support the Israeli-Palestinian peace process solely to rid itself of the Islamist threat and Iranian influence that infiltrate Egypt through Gaza.
Strangely enough, this “hopeful” scenario is about the only good thing that arose out of George W Bush’s asinine war in Iraq. The American failure in Iraq dramatically emboldened and enabled Iran. Iran’s influence in the middle east increased dramatically as the United States eliminated Iran’s two biggest foes: Iraq and the United States. With Saddam Hussein gone, Iran had no military rival left in the region, and with the United States engaged in an economically crippling guerrilla campaign in Iraq that drove up the price of oil, Iran’s economic influence similarly grew.
Once the price of crude oil reached more realistic levels and Iran’s economic might was consequently tempered, Egypt saw an opportunity and seized it. Anti-American sentiment was waning as the Obama Presidency loomed. Iran found itself economically crippled by the collapsing price of oil, and neighboring Arab countries shared Egypt’s justified fear of an almighty and Shi’a Iran. Egypt seized the moment and moved in for the kill, and Israel was kind enough to oblige.
The fantastic dream that may be realized out of this is that of pan-arabism that has been kept painfully elusive by ancient internecine animosities. Even more fantastic would be the recognition that Israel can actually aid Arabs in effecting control over their own domains as it is aiding Egypt now. Thus, the net effect, in the minds of the neocons who dreamt this nightmare in Iraq, would be a total disaster for the United States: the Iraqi campaign that was designed to increase American influence in the region is now ending in the fortification of Arab states and the nearly total elimination of American political influence in the region.
Fortunately, a more rational presidential administration is in power now in the US, and it is highly likely that Obama, Clinton and company will see the opportunity to engage the middle east as friendly, willing partners in the creation of a new economic alliance against Russia, China and, to a much, much lesser extent, Europe. Such could be the consequence of Hillary Clinton’s use of American “soft power” (or “smart power” to use her words), and that would be the greatest consequence for the USA.
Let us thank the powers that be, then, that the morons are finally out of office.