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HowEgyptProlongedtheGazaWar|ForeignPolicy

ARGUMENT
How Egypt Prolonged the Gaza War
As Israel and the Palestinians struggle to reach
yet another cease-fire, the mediators in Cairo are
making the conflict worse -- and empowering
radicals in the process.
BY MICHELE DUNNE , NATHAN J. BROWN

AUGUST 18, 2014

s negotiations on a lasting cease-fire in Gaza grind on in Cairo, its not only


the animosity between Israel and Hamas that is complicating the talks its

also Egypts role as mediator. Egypts internal politics far more fraught and violent
than they were during Hosni Mubaraks era have intruded on the attempts to reach
an agreement, as the military-dominated government in Cairo attempts to use the
talks as part of its war against the Muslim Brotherhood.
This subtle shift from mediator with interests, to interested party that also
mediates has led to a longer and bloodier Gaza war than might otherwise have
been the case. And while a strong Egypt-Israel alliance was supposed to cut Hamas
down to size, this strategy has also backfired on the diplomatic front. However much
it has bloodied Hamas and particularly the population of Gaza the war has
actually led to a breaking of international taboos on dealing with Hamas, a former
pariah.
Egypt has always brought its own long-standing national security interests to the

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Egypt has always brought its own long-standing national security interests to the
table in previous Gaza mediation efforts. Cairo has never wanted militants or
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weapons to enter Egypt from Gaza, nor has it wanted to
take
over responsibility for

humanitarian or security affairs there, having


had the
unhappy experience of
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occupying the Gaza Strip for almost 20 years
following 1948. Egyptian intelligence
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post even during the yearlong
officials have always taken the lead in dealing
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presidency of the Muslim Brotherhoods Mohamed Morsi. While one might have
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thought that Morsi would have opened the floodgates to Hamas, the Brotherhoods
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ideological bedfellow, in actuality Egypt kept the border with Gaza largely closed
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during his presidency and continued efforts to destroy
tunnels. Whatever his

personal sympathies, Morsi stayed within the lines


of a policy designed to ensure that
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Egypt was not stuck holding the Gaza hot potato.

But after removing Morsi in a July 2013 coup, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, then defense
minister and now president, transformed Egypts policy toward Gaza into part of his
larger domestic and international political agenda. He is clearly using Gaza to
prosecute his own relentless crackdown against the Brotherhood an effort that also
helps cement his alignment with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
In the first phase of Egyptian diplomacy during this recent Gaza war, Egyptian
mediators played their hand transparently and ruthlessly. They attempted to
corner Hamas by publicly announcing a cease-fire proposal on July 15 that had only
been coordinated with Israel; when Hamas balked, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu promptly announced that the rejection provided "international
legitimacy" for an expanded Israeli operation. Thus what was touted as a proposal to
end the conflict actually enabled a ground incursion, which resulted in a more
thorough elimination of Hamas tunnels and rockets than Israeli missiles alone would
have been able to accomplish.
The ground invasion also led to at least 1,600 more Palestinian deaths. Previous
Egyptian presidents would have blanched at complicity in such violence.

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Egyptian presidents would have blanched at complicity in such violence.


As the conflict continued, however, Sisi found that he could no longer completely
exclude Hamas if he also wanted to preserve Egypts role as mediator between Israel
and the Palestinians. And indeed, for all the ways in which the diplomatic efforts to
manage the Gaza war have worked against Hamas, one of the most striking aspects of
the current Egyptian-led effort has been how it has shattered the fiction that Israel
and Hamas will not negotiate.
The two parties have conducted diplomacy before, of course but it was also carried
out with levels of deniability, indirectness, and distaste. Each round of fighting
chipped away at the principle that Israel and Hamas do not deal with each other
diplomatically. Now the only dimension missing is direct contact: Diplomacy takes
place in Cairo, with delegations arriving in daylight and exchanging positions (and
threats) not merely in public, but through Egyptian mediators.

is process
s also
attered
other myth
at the primary
me in town is
out how to
hieve a twoate solution
tween Israel
d the PLO.

This process has also shattered another myth that the primary
game in town is about how to achieve a two-state solution
between Israel and the PLO. Today, two-state diplomacy seems
to be at best in hibernation. The talks in Cairo, on the other
hand, are substantial. They cover violence, security,
reconstruction, living conditions in Gaza, movement and access
to the territory, Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, and internal
Palestinian governance.
In that sense, Cairo is presiding over a process that follows the
priorities of Hamas, which has always rejected the diplomatic
process that began with the 1993 Oslo Accords. The current state
of negotiations reflects Hamass position that only talks about

interim arrangements and truces are acceptable; conflict-ending diplomacy is not.


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The Israeli right can also feel vindicated, as the talks suggest that the conflict might
be managed, but that it will not be resolved anytime soon.
The Palestinian Islamist camp and the Israeli right, however, should take little joy in
this accomplishment. The diplomatic efforts led by Egypt will likely give Hamas
little, and the new Egypt-Israel alliance is based on a short-term coincidence of
interests rather than any strategic consideration. Israeli and Palestinian societies,
meanwhile, are already paying a high price for the continuing failure to reach a
lasting peace accord.
There is one more troubling aspect of Cairos diplomacy that has largely escaped
notice. While Egyptian mediators were forced in the end to deal directly with
Hamass leadership in order to reach a cease-fire, they have tried to mitigate this
unpleasant reality in two ways. They have not only been seeking to enhance the role
of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas something Mubarak always did in his
day but may also be flirting with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a group far more
committed to violence against Israel than Hamas. PIJ leaders such as Khaled al-Batsh
have been quoted in the Egyptian government-owned media recently insisting that
no other state can take Egypts place as mediator.
Egypts military-dominated regime, then, has proved that it is not against forging
alliances with violent Islamists; its only feud is with those allied with the Muslim
Brotherhood. The apparent Egypt-PIJ flirtation highlights how the countrys highly
polarized politics might cause Cairos military-dominated leadership to cultivate
clients that are hardly in the interests of the United States or Israel. An Egypt that
looks and acts more and more like Pakistan is not something to celebrate.
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DunneandBrownwritewell.Itisjusttheheadlineandlastparagraphsofthearticlethatarewildlyoff
base.ThisseemstobetheinfluenceoftheeditorDavidRothkopfwhoseemotionalconnectiontothe
plightofthePalestinianscloudshisotherwisethoughtfuljobresponsibilityaspublisher.

TheimportantstoryisthatIsraelandEgyptshareimportantcommoninterestsinreducingmilitancyby
HamasinGaza.Thisisnotashorttermcoincidence.

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ARGUMENT
Beyond Ukraine: NATO Solidarity in a Time
of Crisis
Its time for the Czech Republic and European
allies to stand up.
BY BOHUSLAV SOBOTKA

AUGUST 18, 2014

hen the late Czech President Vaclav Havel received an invitation to join the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1997, he noted that the treaty did

more than guarantee security. First and foremost, Havel said, NATO membership was

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more than guarantee security. First and foremost, Havel said, NATO membership was
an opportunity to assume our share of responsibility for peace on the European
continent and to contribute to the defense of the values cherished by the alliance.
The crisis in Ukraine has been a true game changer for Europe. Russias annexation
of Crimea earlier this year, followed by the outbreak of fighting in what had been
deemed a stable European country, has shaken the foundations of the continent. In a
matter of days, the basic tenets of Europes security were dealt a serious blow. The
inviolability of borders established with the Helsinki Final Act the 1975 agreement
between Europes countries, the United States, and Canada to respect sovereignty
and refrain from use of force was breached. So was the Budapest Agreement, the
1994 treaty that guarantees Ukraines sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July sent further shock waves
through European capitals. Armed conflict erupting on our doorstep has been a
powerful reminder of our shared responsibility. We have learned that security in
Europe cannot be taken for granted.
More than ever, Havels words on NATO ring true. The events in Ukraine have
underscored the irreplaceable role of the transatlantic partnership in ensuring
Europes peace and stability. Russias annexation of Crimea and the armed clashes
that ensued have ignited a vigorous public debate in Europe on defense issues, which
normally enjoy only marginal attention among the wider public.
The Czech Republic has been and always will be an active and integral member of
NATO. The alliance has always symbolized both "the return to Europe" and the
transatlantic bond which we see as the foundation of our security policy. When the
Czech Republic joined the alliance, we saw NATO as being primarily a military
defensive organization that would help us ensure stability and territorial integrity.
NATO membership has had a huge impact on the transformation of our armed forces.
The aim was to develop a modern, mobile, and small-sized force, and to achieve an

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The aim was to develop a modern, mobile, and small-sized force, and to achieve an
adequate level of interoperability with new allies and partners. It was also important
to the Czech Republic that our neighbors, too, were striving for membership. That
coordination and shared efforts have provided an incentive for regional stability and
cooperation. Today, Central Europe is well anchored in the European and EuroAtlantic security and defense architecture.
But 15 years since the Czech Republic joined NATO, the outbreak of hostilities in
Ukraine poses a serious test for the alliance as a collective defense organization. A
creeping sense of insecurity hardly bodes well for a Europe, whole, free and at peace.
NATOs immediate response to the current crisis was adequate. Allies have
demonstrated a high level of unity and cohesion and the alliance has managed to
adopt some countermeasures, such as deploying fighter jets to the Baltics,
dispatching AWACS reconnaissance planes to fly along Ukraines borders, and has
held regular talks to better coordinate diplomatic efforts.
NATO as a collective defense organization offers an ideal vehicle to assuage
legitimate worries of countries from the Baltic to the Black Sea. The premium the
alliance places on solidarity, an essential aspect of NATOs credibility, proves as
important as ever. Without escalating the situation, it is paramount that the alliance
takes the necessary steps to reassure those NATO member states who feel their
security might be at risk. In the long run, we should intensify joint exercises,
contingency planning, and sea and air patrolling, to name but a few measures. A

visible
monstration
NATOs
lidarity is
portant to
assure allies.

visible demonstration of NATOs solidarity is important to


reassure allies.
But it is important that NATO members see the alliances
security guarantees as a two-way street, not only in bringing
benefits in the form of extra security, but also responsibilities.
This applies to each and every member state.

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assure allies.

HowEgyptProlongedtheGazaWar|ForeignPolicy

This applies to each and every member state.

This fact has never been more in our minds than it is now, following the loss of five
Czech soldiers in Afghanistan last month. Our troops are risking their lives every day
on NATO missions around the world. They have earned the respect of their NATO
peers and have established an impressive track record. Since the Czech Republics
entry into NATO, we have been faced with a number of crisis response-type
operations outside NATOs territory. These operations from the Balkans to
Afghanistan have seen Czech troops take on a range of tasks, including postconflict reconstruction, training local forces, and providing humanitarian relief.
The Czech Republics constructive role in world affairs and security challenges
around the globe has come despite a military budget has been creeping downwards
for years. Until last year, it was only slightly over 1 percent of GDP. In the recent past,
the defense budget has not been a priority for many European countries. The
protracted economic crisis has perhaps done the worst damage as it forced
governments to channel scarce funds to other areas. This applies not only the Czech
Republic but to most NATO members who have slashed defense spending and seen
the publics interest in defense issues all but disappear.
The new Czech government is ready to start increasing defense spending beginning
next year, even in this difficult economic climate. In order to build a modern armed
forces and reverse previous defense cuts, the Czech military budget should gradually
climb to 1.4 percent of GDP by 2020.
On March 12, 2014, the 15th anniversary of the Czech Republics NATO membership,
the leaders of both government and opposition parties signed a joint declaration on
defense. The document calls for prioritizing defense as well as securing funding for
the defense budget.
But discussions of joint declarations and allocations for defense are inconsequential

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But discussions of joint declarations and allocations for defense are inconsequential
in the face of the recent death of five Czech soldiers. Our commitment cannot be
measured only by the size of defense budgets, but by what real allies sacrifice for the
common cause, the utmost price human lives.
With regard to worrying developments closer to home, it is obvious that a more
serious and long-term approach to security is needed. When it comes to NATO and
this is especially the case with its European members we are reminded of the old
adage that security comes with a price. And we all need to be ready to shoulder our
share of responsibility.
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It'sjustmorefalloutfromthebanker'sthievery.But,ofcourse,thisiswhattheywanted.
Apparently,thecurrentCzechpremierISstupidenoughtoignorethefactsaboutUkraine.Andwhatabout
thebabbleaboutthebreachingofthehypotetical"inviolabilityofbordersestablishedwiththeHelsinki
FinalActof1975"?YoumightthinkSobotkahasneverheardaboutYugoslaviaandKosovo.Butthereis
nothingelsetobeexpectedfromaEUfanaticsocialdemocrat,isthere?

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