Table of Contents:
Normalizing With Cairo Rather Than Riyadh Could Be a Major Achievement; Hillel Frisch, Algemeiner, Nov. 15, 2020
Iran’s Plan to Topple Arab Leaders: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 17, 2020
Islamic State Province in Sinai Changes its Strategy: Are Israel and the Suez Canal in the Crosshairs?: Tomer Naveh and Yoram Schweitzer, INSS Insight No. 1411, Dec. 3, 2020
Was the Arab Spring a Revolution?: Amotz Asa – El, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 22, 2020
Normalizing With Cairo Rather Than Riyadh Could Be a Major Achievement
Algemeiner, Nov. 15, 2020
It has become almost a mantra that the prime objective of the Abraham Accords is a peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel. This overlooks an even more important Israeli foreign policy goal: normalizing relations with Egypt. This normalization has been a long time coming, as the states signed their historic peace treaty establishing full diplomatic relations in 1979.
The reason why this goal has been overlooked is probably the remarkable durability of 41 years of Israeli-Egyptian peace after 25 years of enmity and war. Given the bloodshed and the costs both sides incurred before the treaty, compared to the relative calm they have enjoyed since, one might not be inclined to fret too much over the cold peace Egypt has imposed on Israeli-Egyptian relations.
Even less does one feel like quibbling over cold versus warm peace when everyone acknowledges that Egypt’s departure from hot war meant the effective end of war-making between all the Arab states and Israel.
This is not to say no shots were fired. Israel faced the Syrian army during the first Lebanese war, and Syria is today a base for Iranian operations against Israel — either directly, in attempting to set up military installations in the country (especially in the southern Golan), or in supporting its proxies in the area. Iraq under Saddam launched two dozen or so rockets at Israel to divert attention away from its occupation of Kuwait. In neither case, however, was there a deliberate attempt to engage Israel in a full-scale war.
Yet it is an undisputed fact in a region where even basic facts are hotly contested that ever since Egypt departed from its pursuit of war with Israel, no Arab state has dared challenge Israel either alone or in any alliance.
The best proof is the quiet that prevailed on the Golan Heights between 1974 and the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. The most hostile Arab state preferred to work through proxies in Lebanon (in alliance with Iran) rather than challenge Israel on home ground, despite the considerable tarnishing of its reputation in the Arab world for such behavior.
In fact, the deterioration on the Golan Heights (limited so far) is due to the weakening of the Syrian state since the outbreak of the civil war, a cataclysm from which it never fully recovered and because of which it has significantly increased its reliance on Iran. As long as it was an ally of Iran’s rather than its vassal-state (as it has become), Iran respected Syria’s wishes to avoid direct confrontation with Israel. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Iran’s Plan to Topple Arab Leaders
Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute, Dec. 17, 2020
Iran’s Islamist proxies in the Arab world have resurfaced to condemn last week’s normalization agreement between Israel and Morocco just as they did with similar accords reached in the past few months with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.
As usual, the Islamists and their patrons in Tehran, who seek the elimination of Israel, are using texts from the Koran and sayings attributed to the prophet Mohammed to justify their opposition to the normalization of relations between Arabs and Israel. After the Israel-Morocco deal, however, the Islamists have stepped up their campaign of incitement against Arabs who want to make peace with Israel.
Now, the Islamists are calling on the Moroccan people to revolt against their government and King Mohammed VI. This call shows that the Islamists have shifted from rhetorical attacks on Arabs who establish relations with Israel to calls to violence against the Arab rulers and governments. By urging the Moroccans to “resist” the normalization agreement, Iran’s proxies are sending a message to the people of Morocco to topple their “treacherous” regime by using all available methods, including terrorism.
The Iranians were among the first Muslims to condemn the Israel-Morocco agreement, paving the way for their proxies to follow suit by urging Moroccans to rise against their regime. Morocco’s normalization of relations with Israel was a “betrayal” and a “stab in the back” of the Palestinians, said Hossein Amir-Abdollahanian, an adviser to Iran’s parliamentary speaker.
Shortly after the Iranian announcement, Hamas, the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamist movement that rules over the Gaza Strip, released a statement, condemning the Israel-Morocco agreement:
“Normalization with the Zionist entity is a deplorable step that is not worthy of Morocco and does not reflect the positions of the brotherly Moroccan people who have stood with Palestine, Jerusalem and the al Aqsa Mosque in all circumstances and stations.”
In an indirect appeal to Moroccans to revolt against their government and monarch, Hamas called on “the authentic Moroccan people and all the free peoples to reject this agreement and all the cheap normalization agreements and to continue boycotting the Zionist occupation and not accepting it at all, notwithstanding the circumstances and temptations.”
Hamas’s call on Moroccans to revolt against their leaders contradicts its own declared policy that it does not intervene in the internal affairs of the Arab countries. “Hamas does not meddle in the internal affairs of Arab and Muslim countries,” said senior Hamas official Salah Bardaweel.
If true, why is Hamas denouncing Morocco’s decision to establish relations with Israel? Moreover, why is Hamas calling on the Moroccan people to “reject” an agreement reached by the Moroccan monarch? What is this call but a blatant intervention in the internal affairs of an Arab country? … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
On July 21, 2020, militants from Wilayat Sinai (Sinai Province) – an affiliate of the Islamic State in Egypt – surprised Egyptian soldiers when they launched a joint attack on a military base near the town of Rabaa. Contrary to official military reports, which claimed a low number of casualties, the attack reportedly led to the deaths of some 40 people and left 65 injured. Subsequently, Wilayat Sinai militants seized temporary control over four villages near the base and attempted to impose a regime of sharia law upon them. Only after nearly three months of fighting was the Egyptian army able to cleanse the area of the militants, assume control over the villages, and liberate them. Wilayat Sinai’s successful attack in Rabaa was the background for its public declaration of an “occupation” of the villages and a propaganda campaign, which focused initially – and for the first time – on demonstrating aspects of “governance” by the Sinai Province, with displays of flags, maintenance of public order, and provision of food supplies. This joined an emphasis on the harm caused by the Egyptian military on the village residents, a message that was intended to help recruit new supporters from among the Bedouin population in Sinai.
Wilayat Sinai’s attack on Rabaa was unusual both in its scope and in its mode of action when compared to other activities in the past year, which primarily included the planting of explosive devices, mines, sniping activity, hit and run operations, and the elimination of collaborators. Thus, this activity may signal a change in the organization’s modus operandi, beyond the tactical level. Despite its ongoing weakness since the launch of the extensive Egyptian military operation to destroy it in February 2018, Wilayat Sinai is in a process of changing its strategy, shifting from defense and survival toward operational offensive and infliction of significant damage on the Egyptian regime and economy by attacking the Suez Canal, tourism in Sinai, and the natural gas pipeline. This change is not necessarily a reflection of the organization’s growing strength, but rather its adaptation to the Egyptian army’s counter-operations, and a “recalculation of its route” to optimize its influence and activities. The repeated attempts by the Egyptian army to contain terror groups in the unpopulated desert regions have not succeeded in recent years; similarly its efforts to establish deterrence against terror have failed. Accordingly, it is doubtful that the army will be able to curtail this new trend, though it appears to be preparing to do so. Wilayat Sinai also continues to launch weekly attacks on Egyptian soldiers in its primary operational arena in the northern Sinai in the Rafah el-Arish area.
In addition, in light of the call from an Islamic State spokesman this past January urging Wilayat Sinai to attack Israel, there is a possibility of a move toward attacking Israeli targets, which in recent years has been relegated to a lower priority as compared to the main struggle against Egypt’s army and civilians, particularly in Sinai. In this sense, the organization’s avoidance of attack along the border fence may signal a possible intention to harm Israeli tourists in the Sinai, when the Taba crossing re-opens (which would also serve to harm the Egyptian economy). … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi was hardly 27 when he torched himself to death after a cop confiscated the fruits that were the means of his meager livelihood, and also slapped him on the face. The pyre that the unassuming peddler sparked in the Tunisian hinterland soon spread across the Middle East, igniting social, national and international mayhem. A decade later, the hopes of revolution those events kindled have long been dashed, though the fire in which they came wrapped has yet to die. Bouazizi’s death on January 4, 2011, unsettled the entire Arab world, leading at least a dozen other angry men to self-immolate, from Algeria through Egypt to Saudi Arabia and Syria.
The social wrath that flickered in those infernos was clear, and its effect seemed seismic. Millions across the Arab world took those acts of desperation as a collective vote of no confidence in the entire Arab world’s leadership over nearly 70 post-colonial years. The result, mass demonstrations in multiple capitals, unsettled the previous order and initially impressed many Westerners as a belated expansion of the democratic revolutions that freed Central Europe two decades earlier. That is how those events assumed the misnomer Arab Spring.
No Arab Spring materialized.
The Arab world today is even more politically distressed, socially disillusioned and internationally troubled than it was when Bouazizi was laid to rest in a funeral attended by thousands in Sidi Bouzid, the town where he was born, abused, and consumed in flames.
THE MOST immediate result of Bouazizi’s suicide was a spectacular domino effect whereby four veteran Arab leaders fell in rapid succession. The first was his own country’s president of 24 years, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, whose era’s corruption is still visible through a string of lavish beachfront estates that members of his extended family abandoned as they rushed to assorted asylums abroad while he himself fled to Riyadh.
That happened the week after Bouazizi’s death. The following month what began as a Tunisian drama became a pan-Arab epic as Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president of 30 years and the perceived leader of the entire Arab world, resigned amid mass demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
The following year Libya’s leader of 44 years, Muammar Gaddafi, was lynched by a mob, four months before Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh resigned, half a year after emerging wounded from an attempt on his life. The rapidity with which veteran regimes were toppled, and the demonstrations’ social rhetoric, created the impression that the turbulence was about economic opportunity and political liberation. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
For Further Reference:
PA, Jordan and Egypt Call for Resumption of Peace Talks: Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 19, 2020 — The Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan on Saturday stressed the need to urge Israel to return to negotiations in order to reach a final settlement on the basis of a two-state solution to ensure the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Palestinian Cause is Always Priority in Egyptian Politics: Sisi: Egypt Today, Nov. 30, 2020 — President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received on Monday his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in Itihadeya Palace to discuss the recent updates of the Palestinian Cause and the peace process in the Middle East.
Netanyahu to Visit Egypt in First Official Visit in Decade: MEMO, Dec. 10, 2020 — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing to visit Egypt in what will be the first official visit by an Israeli leader in a decade, reports the Times of Israel.
Egypt Welcomes UAE Joining Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum: Mohammad Abu Zaid, Arab News, Dec. 17, 2020 — Egypt has welcomed the UAE’s entry into the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), according to a spokesman for President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
Egypt and the Gulf: Allies and Rivals: David Butter, Chatham House, Apr. 20, 2020 — Egypt and the Gulf Arab region have long been important poles of political, military economic and cultural power and influence in the Middle East.
This week’s Communiqué Isranet is titled: Communiqué: Dix ans plus tard, constat d’échec pour le « printemps arabe »(Dec 24,2020)
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