Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Egypt's Treaty with Israel: the IDF's Enabler?

Over the more than 30 years since the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt after the Camp David accords that Jimmy Carter engineered, the standard wisdom has enshrined both Menachem Begin and Anwar al-Sadat as visionary peacemakers who hoped to blaze the trail to a new era in the Middle East.  And after his assassination in 1981, Sadat was, for all intents and purposes, canonized in the West as a martyr for peace.

The recent revolution in Egypt, however, marked the (we hope) end of a military-grounded autocracy of which Hosni Mubarak was the last manifestation, but Anwar al-Sadat was a part.  A number of writers recently have re-examined Sadat's career, and exposed him as an autocrat who pandered to various influences - foreign and domestic - as it suited his own purposes.  The treaty with Israel was a case in point.  His true motive for negotiating with Begin was to regain the Sinai, as well as ingratiate himself with the US and plant his regime's lips firmly around the American foreign/military-aid teat.

Patrick Seale has now penned an essay that casts that treaty, not as a milestone on some path to peace, but as an enabler for Israel's brutal military domination of the Palestinian and Lebanon, and even the IDF's destruction of Saddam's Osirak reactor outside Baghdad in 1981.  Seale lays a lot of ills at the feet of the treaty - and I'm generally not a fan of such mono-causal explanations -  but his take is worth reading.

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