Egypt Vents Anger As Turkey Takes Centre Stage In Reconciliation Of Palestinian Factions
Middle East Eye, Oct. 23, 2020An agreement between Palestinian factions for a further meeting and the setting of a date for elections has stalled, with fears that anger from Cairo over Turkey’s sponsorship of the reconciliation process among rival parties has led to the delays.Egypt’s dissatisfaction with Fatah and Hamas over their decision to hold bilateral meetings towards reconciliation in Istanbul under Turkish sponsorship has delayed the setting of a date for a subsequent meeting of the Palestinian factions’ leaders.Conscious of Cairo’s anger at Ankara’s influence over the talks, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has delayed issuing a presidential decree setting the date for elections, a major step that was agreed upon between the two movements in Istanbul on 24 September.At that meeting, the two factions agreed to refer what they had agreed upon to a leadership meeting bringing together the secretary-generals of the two sides, preceded by Abbas announcing the date of the elections to be held within six months.
The fact that this has not happened has once again raised questions about pressures being exerted on the protagonists from both regional and wider international parties.
Egypt, which has been the main mediator and traditional host of Palestinian reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas since their breach in 2007, has not issued any official negative response to the results of the Istanbul meeting.
But the reality of the situation indicates that Turkey’s involvement in the reconciliation, Qatar’s increasing influence in Gaza, and the issues of a ceasefire and the exchange of prisoners between Hamas and Israel, does not satisfy Egypt, which considers such moves as violations of its historical role in the Palestinian cause.
Egypt’s relationship with Turkey became strained in 2013, after the Egyptian army overthrew the democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi, who was affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the move as a coup, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who led the operation and later became president, as a “tyrant”.
An Egyptian journalist close to the government’s decision-making circles, who preferred to remain anonymous, confirmed to Middle East Eye that Cairo did not publicly declare its dissatisfaction with the talks in Turkey, but informed Jibril Rajoub, a Fatah Central Committee member and the head of its delegation in Istanbul, of its “annoyance” about the meeting.
The journalist believes that the Egyptian position is based on the successive actions of the Palestinian Authority leadership, towards whom Cairo’s anger was more strongly directed compared to Hamas, as the relationship with Hamas was based on “security interests” only. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Analysis | Turkey Seeks to Replace Egypt in Palestinian Arena – and Israel Should Be Worried
Haaretz, Oct. 21, 2020
The Rafah crossing, which provides the Gaza Strip’s only access to Egypt, has been closed since March, apart from two brief periods. Officially, this is in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. But although that reason is indisputably valid, Egypt has also likely kept the crossing closed as part of its sanctions on Hamas for daring to take independent political action.
For two months, Hamas and Fatah have been discussing reviving their reconciliation plan and holding new elections – first for the Palestinian Legislative Council, effectively the parliament for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, then for the presidency, and finally for the Palestinian National Council, the representative institution for Palestinians everywhere.
When Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed their peace agreement, Palestinians were forced to come to terms with reality: Arab states are ditching the Arab Peace Initiative, normalizing relations with Israel and ending their theoretical guarantee that any peace deal with Israel would require an Israeli withdrawal.
Seeking alternatives to this Arab safety net, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas authorized Jibril Rajoub, secretary-general of the PLO’s executive committee, to seek help from other countries in opening negotiations with Hamas. In early September, Fatah and Hamas officials met in Beirut. The next meeting was in Damascus. Then, on September 22, they met in Istanbul, which sparked outrage in Cairo.
Palestinian officials termed the meeting a “breakthrough,” and Turkey suddenly became the Palestinians’ matchmaker. Agreements in principle were reached for elections to take place over the course of six months, with the goal of forming a national unity government that includes all Palestinian factions. At the next meeting, which will take place in Ramallah, representatives of these factions are expected to authorize Abbas to issue decrees specifying the dates of the elections and how they will be run.
The meeting after that is supposed to happen in Cairo. But three weeks after the “Istanbul understandings” were reached, Egypt still hasn’t approved it. According to a Palestinian Authority official, Egypt isn’t content with just playing host. “They want to be a party to the talks, and are apparently angry that talks… were held in Turkey. We gave [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan a political entry ticket into the internal Palestinian arena, a role traditionally reserved for Egypt,” he said.
Officially, Hamas and Fatah officials say Egypt has a central role in the process and neither group plans to adopt a new patron. But the agreements stipulate that wherever the talks take place, they will be “purely Palestinian, without other countries’ involvement.” In short, Egypt can’t join them.
Last week, the Palestinians fired another arrow at Egypt, when a group of senior Hamas officials headed by Moussa Abu Marzouk met in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin’s Mideast envoy, Mikhail Bogdanov. Abu Marzouk later tweeted that Moscow is willing to host talks between the leaders of the Palestinian factions. Abdullah Abdullah, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, also said that if Egypt doesn’t agree to host the meeting, “The Palestinians won’t be captive to the venue. We’ll find another way to hold it.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
The Middle East Favors Trump
JNS, Oct. 27, 2020
The 2020 U.S. presidential elections are nearing the final stretch, and Iran cannot seem to stand the suspense. Last week, Washington detected attempts by Tehran to intervene in the elections and undermine Trump’s chances to win a second term.
Iran has made no secret of its desire to see Trump out of the White House—and for good reason. His administration has worked tirelessly to reimpose sanctions on it over its nuclear program and has taken other far-reaching steps to put Tehran on the defensive. These efforts have set Iran’s aspirations of regional hegemony back years. Is it any wonder the ayatollahs are losing sleep over the possibility of four more years?
Here, too, Iran is the exception to the rule. Most Middle East countries want to see him remain in the White House; the fact that Iran fears him so much is considered a bonus.
One can argue about his style, but no one can deny Trump credit for the fact that his regional policies have made friends and foes alike take notice. He has restored the United States’ standing as a major power-player in the Middle East.
There is also no doubt that his crowning achievement is making actual breakthroughs in the moribund Middle East peace process.
His decision to go over the Palestinian Authority’s head was proven right and regardless of what the future might bring, Trump will go down in history is the U.S. president who brokered three peace agreements between Arab nations—the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan—and the Jewish state, and presided over the Israel-Lebanon maritime border talks. And more is sure to come.
Effective progress in peacemaking in the Middle East alongside the very effective deterrence gained vis-à-vis Iran has restored stability to the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring and therefore has been welcomed by the region’s rulers.
Trump has proven he has a better understanding of regional realities than his predecessor, and unlike President Barack Obama didn’t create an Islamist backlash by trying to push Western democracy or preach morals.
The results of the Nov. 3 elections are for American voters to decide, but Trump’s legacy will be felt in the Middle East long after he leaves the White House, be it in 2020 or in 2024. His will be a legacy of power and determination, of resorting stability to the region and of proving that the United States stands by its allies.
The Unapologetic Bias of the American Left
Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness, Oct. 18, 2020
Some yearn for the ancient monopolistic days of network news, the adolescent years of public radio and TV, and the still reputable New York Times—when once upon a time the Left at least tried to mask their progressivism in sober and judicious liberal façades.
An avuncular Walter Cronkite, John Chancellor, Jim Lehrer, or Abe Rosenthal at least went through the motions of reporting news that was awkward or even embarrassing to the Left. Their agenda was 1960s-vintage Great Society liberalism, seen as the natural evolution from the New Deal and post-war internationalism. Edward R. Murrow, the ACLU of old, and Free Speech Movement at Berkeley—these were their liberal referents. Those days are gone.
Yet even during the Obama years, when studies showed the president had received the most slanted media honeymoon in news history, overt media bias was, at least, as hotly denied as it intensified. There were still a few ossified, quarter-hearted efforts now and then to mention the IRS scandal, the surveillance of Associated Press reporters, the various scandals embroiling the Veterans Administration, General Service Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the Secret Service. But even that thin pretense is over now, too.
What ended liberal dissimulation about slanted reporting is a new pride, or rather an arrogance, about bias itself. The new liberated defiance is something like, “We are biased. Damn proud of it. And what exactly do you plan on doing about it?”
Jim Rutenberg infamously announced in January 2017 his profession’s proud defiance of now ossified norms in a new age in which reporters would “throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century.” Christiane Amanpour felt she was now released from the old chains of professed “objectivity.” “Much of the media was tying itself in knots trying to differentiate between balance, between objectivity, neutrality, and crucially, the truth,” she said just a few weeks after the 2016 election. “We cannot continue the old paradigm.” Michel Foucault could not have said it any better.
Univision’s Jorge Ramos more or less ridiculed classical journalistic training and embraced the liberation from the old bourgeois idea of “neutrality.”
Saying that reporters should abandon neutrality on certain issues and choose sides may seem at odds with everything that’s taught in journalism school. But there are times when the only way we journalists can fulfill our primary social responsibility—challenging those in power—is by leaving neutrality aside. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
For Further Reference:
Egyptian President’s Warning: Erdoğan Uses Islam and a Wave of Terrorists Could Go to Greece: Greek City Times, Oct. 24, 2020 — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi warned his Greek and Cypriot counterparts that a wave of Turkish-backed jihadists will be a problem for Greece “in the future,” according to Ta Nea.
Turkey Irked Over Joint Declaration by Cyprus, Greece and Egypt: Arab News, Oct. 23, 2020 — Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday slammed a joint statement by Greece, Cyprus and Egypt that condemns Turkish energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and numerous “provocations” that they maintain are threatening regional peace.
Turkey-Egypt Conflict In Libya Goes to Market: George Mikhail, Al-Monitor, Oct. 26, 2020 — As Turkey promotes its products to the Libyan market, Istanbul hosted the first Turkish-Libyan Economic Forum on Oct. 15 with the participation of several Libyan and Turkish companies.
Are Egypt-Russia Naval Drills in Black Sea Message to Ankara?: Muhammed Magdy, Al-Monitor, Oct. 18, 2020 — The Russian Ministry of Defense announced Oct. 10 that its naval forces will conduct joint exercises with their Egyptian counterparts for the first time in the Black Sea, which is bordered by several countries, including Turkey, one of the main rivals of Egypt in the region.