Friday, February 11, 2011

The Next Crisis? Mubarak Out. Army In. Gaza?

With all the joy of Mubarak's departure, there's not yet been a raft of reporting out of Gaza, where Mubarak played ball with the US-Israel axis by blockading its border, including the Rafah crossing.  But the LA Times notes,

After Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation was announced Friday, Palestinians in Hamas-controlled Gaza spilled into the streets as horns were honked and guns were fired in celebration, CNN reported. Small Palestinian celebrations also began in the city center of Ramallah, the West Bank capital.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said many see Mubarak's resignation as an opportunity for those in Gaza.

"We call upon the new Egyptian leadership to take an immediate decision to lift the blockade of Gaza and open Rafah [border] crossing permanently to allow people's free movement and in order for the reconstruction process of Gaza to begin," Abu Zuhri told Reuters.

But will they?

  • The US will be pressuring the generals to keep the blockade up.
  • Israel - ditto, not that they have the US's leverage with the generals.
  • The Palestinian Authority of Messrs Abbas and Fayyad? Police have been called out to suppress protests in the West Bank in support of the Cairo demonstrations. The last thing Abbas and al-Fatah want is any kind of victory - or even a psychological boost - for Hamas.  (Sad comment on the current state of Palestinian nationalism.) Obama and Netanyahu will be squeezing Abbas to shut up about the Gaza blockade, so as not to give Hamas (and, in their calculations, Hezbollah/Syria/Iran a victory vs. Israel).  But can Abbas afford not to support a call for Egyptian lifting of the blockade without completely, irretrievably shredding any remaining credibility he has as a "Palestinian" leader?

But it's safe to assume that a majority of the Egyptian "street" wants the blockade lifted.  The Muslim Brotherhood surely wants that; and Mr. el-Baradei asserted publicly that a new democratic regime in Egypt would focus its attention on lifting the blockade as a high-priority item.

Might it be at this point that, with Fox/AIPAC/WINEP/AbeFoxman/Pastor Hagee/Wolf Blitzer and all the horses they ride in on screaming at them, "Don't you dare let those Hamas terrorists escape from Gaza!", Obama-Clinton-Gates decide to advise the Generals in Cairo, "you let this happen, and you can kiss good-bye to those billions of bucks worth of weaponry, tanks, and training."?

Their options?
  • Knuckle under, and deal with the civilians as they might, OR
  • Close ranks with the civilians, maybe even close the Suez Canal for a while, just to signal that they won't be pushed around on this matter,
  •  Find a new patron to provide military hardware.
I hear China makes some pretty good stuff.

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