Islamist Egypt is good for ... fence-builders....
[T]he rising fence is also a metaphor for how Israel sees itself in a changing Middle East: Beset on all sides by profound shifts in its Arab neighbors that could alter the strategic balance in the region, it is bolstering its defenses and preparing for the worst.
Lawlessness in the Sinai Peninsula, where local Bedouin tribes have long complained of neglect by the Egyptian authorities, has increased since Egypt’s revolution early this year. Attackers have targeted police posts and repeatedly blown up a natural gas pipeline supplying Israel, leading the government to dispatch additional security forces to the region.
Israeli officials say members of radical Islamic groups and Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip are seeking to use Sinai as a platform for attacks on Israel. Some have cautioned that the political turmoil in Egypt, and the possible emergence of a government with a strong Islamist element, could threaten the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. The pact has kept the border calm and is seen as a key element of Israel’s security.
The fence is being erected in anticipation of security problems like the terrorist raid in August near Israel's southernmost city, Eilat. It is not a clone of the Gaza fence, as the two threats differ:
Built to serve as a formidable obstacle rather than as an electronic tripwire to signal infiltration, the Egypt border fence is a larger construction than Israel’s security fence around the Gaza Strip. Located in a barren strip of land along a mutually agreed border, it has not generated the controversies and legal challenges triggered by Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank, which slices into the territory, runs through Palestinian communities in some places and cuts villages off from their lands in others.
A senior officer on the border with Egypt said that despite the increase in perceived threats there, the army still views the area differently from the hostile frontiers with the Gaza Strip, Syria and Lebanon, from which rockets were fired across Israel’s northern border Tuesday, drawing Israeli artillery fire. The rules of engagement along the Egyptian border were different, the officer said, but he acknowledged that since the August attack, military activity along the borderline is carried out with greater tactical caution and more potential firepower.
The fence is slated for completion at year-end 2012.
Meanwhile, Mideast maven Daniel Pipes & Egyptian activist Cynthia Farhat assert that Egypt's elections are being rigged by the military, in league with Islamist parties, so that the military continues to share power after the final transition. Collusion between the military & Islamists, they write, goes all the way back to the 1952 military coup that toppled Egypt's monarchy. Tony Blankley notes that a Pew poll predicted Islamists would win 65 percent of the vote, and (surprise) they did. Seems the Facebook liberal secularists were ... faked out.
Barry Rubin, whose Arab Spring forecast has been more on the mark (totally) than anyone else's I've seen, explains why Egypt is returning to the war years of 1952-1970:
If Western governments have any brains whatsoever they better start preparing for that moment and they better assume the resulting regime will not be friendly. That means worries of war for Israel (will the Obama Administration stop blaming Israel and start supporting it?); lots of fleeing refugees from Egypt; the formation of an Egypt-Tunisia-Libya-Hamas (Gaza Strip) alliance; and Egyptian support for revolution in Syria and Jordan.
In other words, we are back to the wild 1952-1970 era of regional subversion, anti-Westernism, instability, and Arab-Israeli conflict, except for the substitution of Islamism for Gamal Abd al-Nasser’s Arab nationalism.
Forget about this bloc working with the Iran-Syria-Lebanon bloc, the two are enemies. Of course, these divisions coincide with the Sunni-Shia lines. That puts Iraq on the Shia side but I don’t think Iraq is going to become a satellite of Iran and it will try to avoid regional entanglements.
And of course Israel, along with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and four Gulf emirates (United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain) are out in the cold. They are the only friends the United States has left and they don’t think the Obama Administration is much of a friend.
And this happens while the administration trashes Israel. Barry Rubin demolishes Team Obama's claim that they are friends of Israel. And here is a powerful refutation of SecState Hillary's slander against Israel, as being a democracy allegedly (by her) in danger. (Doesn't she have decent staff these days to check facts?) All this, at the expense of a nation not only our sole reliable Mideast ally, but ranking near the global top in key life quality indicia, as measured by the Organization for Economic Development.
This is happening as the administration resists a 100-0 Senate Iran sanctions vote which, if passed into law, would increase pressure on the Iranian regime. Instead, SecState Hillary has opened an online "virtual embassy" aimed at Tehran, to chat with Iranians willing to risk being caught by Iran's brutal, thuggish security forces. And Team Obama decided against a commando operation to retrieve or destroy a stealth drone that crashed inside Iran, lest they be accused of an act of war--despite the undeniable fact that Iran has been making war against us since proclamation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in February 1979. For their part, the Saudis may go nuclear, due to the weakening US Mideast role.
Bottom Line. Israel, unlike the Obama administration in its fantasies about moderate Islamist democracies, must live in the REAL Mideast, in which the Arab Spring is multiplying security threats facing Israel. And the lack of Team Obama diplomatic support only increases the prospect that Israel will act alone, including against their Persian tormentors in Tehran.
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