Tuesday, March 08, 2011

WaPo says Egypt's new FM will keep peace treaty, minister not so sure

From the Washington Post on Sunday:

Egypt on Sunday got its second new government in less than six weeks, including a new foreign minister who is expected to take a tougher line with Israel than the government of the ousted president Hosni Mubarak did.

In one of the most significant shifts, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egypt's foreign minister since 2004, was replaced by Nabil Elaraby, a career diplomat who won plaudits from demonstrators for joining the crowds in Cairo's Tahrir Square shortly before Mubarak resigned.

As a member of the team that negotiated the Camp David peace treaty with Israel in 1978, he can be expected to abide by all of Egypt's existing commitments to Israel, analysts and former colleagues said. But he is renowned for having voiced reservations about some of the treaty's clauses to then-President Anwar Sadat, and "will not be willing to accept Israeli excesses in the occupied territories," said Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, a professor of political science at Cairo University.
However, Elaraby wrote an article in Egypt's Shorouk News about this topic a couple of hours later:
It is time to review our foreign policy
International law allows states to re-consider its international obligations in two cases:

1 - If there was a fundamental change in circumstances. This has happened in Egypt twice in recent history.

First: when the Government of El-Nahhas Pasha in October 1951 to cancel the 1936 Treaty. And second: in March 1976, when President Sadat decided to cancel the Treaty of Amity, which he concluded with the Soviet Union in 1971.

2 - If there was a fundamental Material Breach one of the provisions of the Treaty [by one party,] the other party is entitled to suspend or terminate the treaty according to the severity of the violation of the other party of its provisions. This applies to all Egypt's international obligations, including obligations arising from the peace treaty with Israel if it is found that there is a breach of the provisions of this Treaty on its side.
Here's a textbook case of Western analysis coloring facts to reflect wishful thinking rather than reality.

In the end, it is possible that Elaraby will be forced to keep Camp David, for legal as well as practical reasons, but the fact that his first major statement is laying the groundwork to abrogate it is of more than a little concern.