Saturday, June 23, 2007

Egypt's two-faced game with Hamas

Following the Hamas takeover of Gaza, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak made all the right noises, denouncing the takeover (albeit in ambiguous terms, like the Arab League) and setting up a summit in Egypt at Sharm el-Sheik for Israeli PM Olmert, Jordan's King Abdullah and West Bank capo del tutti Mahmoud Abbas.

The reality is that Mubarak and Egypt have been playing a double game for years, including outright lies and double dealing to the US and now that Hamas has started to release the intelligence documents they captured intact from Fatah's headquarters in Gaza,the deception has been revealed.

The entire structure and rationale of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, carefully crafted and brokered by US Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice, had as its centerpiece security guarantees from both the Palestinians and Egypt to monitor the borders, act against illegal arms smuggling and preserve the peace.

As I've documented many times on these pages, none of the guarantees ended up being worth more than yesterday's used toilet paper. Wholesale smuggling of arms and trained terrorists went on without any action by Fatah, Egypt or the EU monitors who were supposed to supervise the whole thing.

The new information released by Hamas shows direct, inconvertible evidence that Egypt was deliberately complicit in the arms traffic,and had full knowledge of what was going on, even while they were assuring Washington that they were doing everything they could to comply with the security arrangements they had agreed to.

Hamas has released a batch of captured documents which, among other tidbits like memos between various Egyptian and Fatah intelligence officers include complete maps in the hands of Fatah's Palestinian Preventive Security service and Egyptian intelligence of 22 tunnels from Sinai to Gaza,used for arms and terrorist traffic,with the entrances and exits clearly marked.

Fatah and Egypt, in other words, had full knowledge of what was going on in Gaza but deliberately allowed it to happen, and Israel and the US were being strung along by our US `allies' when they kept appealing to Fatah and Egypt to control the borders and block the smuggling tunnels.

They never had any intention of doing so, and this says a great deal about the level of the `peace' achieved between Israel and Egypt.

This duplicity continues, as Egypt and Mubarak continue to play a double game.

While the US and Israel have put their support behind Abbas, Mubarak knows how weak the Fatah leader really is, and is paying lip service to Abbas while trying to work the situation to his advantage.

The last thing Mubarak expects is the demise of Hamas, and he is certainly not willing to do anything overt to support his `ally' the US in that goal.

What Mubarak is concerned about,chiefly is a scenario where Hamastan and Fatah go their separate ways, leaving him with an enclave of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas parent group and Egypt's opposition party, on his borders.

In direct contrast to US aims, Mubarak has put Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman to work trying to patch up differences between Abbas and Hamas. And the scuttlebutt is that Mubarak plans to use the sidelines of the summit to warn Abbas and King Abdullah against any private security arrangements that would allow Palestinian autonomy under Jordan in the West Bank, leaving Mubarak and Egypt to deal with Gaza.He will also pressure Abbas to make a deal with Hamas.

One has to wonder why Israeli PM Olmert is going through with this charade, and what new empty assurances Mubarak will give him.

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