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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Egypt playing both sides of the Fatah/Hamas fence

In public, Egypt has fallen in line with the West's attitude that Fatah is a moderate, peace loving group of guys:
The takeover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas militants has pushed Egypt to transfer its embassy from Gaza to Ramallah in the West Bank.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abul Ghait decided to dispatch his ambassador to the Palestinian territories, who has been based in Gaza for the past 12 years, to Ramallah, according to the Egyptian Middle East News Agency.

The Egyptian move, which came a week after it pulled out its ambassador from Gaza to protest the Hamas takeover, is a clear indication of Cairo's support for Abbas and Fayad's government.

But in private, Egypt seems to be a little more nuanced towards Hamas terrorists:
Egypt has quietly supported the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.

Western intelligence sources said Egypt cooperated with Hamas in allowing shipments of weapons, munitions and explosives that facilitated the Islamic takeover of the Gaza Strip last week. The sources said Egypt concluded that a Hamas takeover would halt or reduce insurgency infiltration in the Sinai Peninsula.

"The Egyptians were in the picture as early as several weeks ago," an intelligence source said. "[Hamas leader Khaled] Masha'al discussed the Fatah strategic threat and said Hamas would stop [Fatah security chief Mohammed] Dahlan at any cost."

In a recent telephone conversation with Egyptian intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman, Masha'al said Dahlan and his allies were working with Al Qaida-aligned groups to undermine Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The sources quoted Masha'al as saying that Fatah was allowing Al Qaida to infiltrate the Sinai Peninsula to facilitate attacks on the regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
So Egypt was a prime force behind Hamas' victory - which they are justifying by saying that the "moderate" Fatah has ties to the "extremist" Al-Qaeda which was trying to infiltrate Egypt from Gaza. If true, it stands the conventional wisdom of Fatah moderation on its head. But if it was true, why would Egypt be publicly supporting Fatah?

Perhaps because Fatah in the West Bank is no threat to Egypt and meanwhile it can get brownie points from the West by falling in line on Fatah.

Of course, that doesn't quite explain this:
We will apparently also need to act in an effort to curb the smuggling that has turned into a flood on the Philadelphi Route. We are talking about above-ground smuggling through breaches in the wall.
Then again, what does YNet know about smuggling? Olmert himself denies it is getting worse:
The prime minister said that the arms-smuggling situation along the Philadelphi Corridor between Gaza and Egypt was no worse now than in the past, and he still felt that IDF military action there would not be "a preferred option."

He said he had spoken recently with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak about the situation on the border, and hoped that the Egyptians would take "more aggressive action" to stop the weapons smuggling.
Good old Olmert, "hoping" that the Egyptians do something about the smuggling that they seem to be actively encouraging. Ehud is very affluent with the currency of hope and dreams, rosy assumptions and wishful thinking, rainbows and unicorns.

His share of the reality market seems a bit lacking.