Monday, June 10, 2002
Ha'aretz says that Mubarak told Bush that he would work to topple Arafat if the P.A. is not reformed.
Now the best way to understand this is in terms of traditional Egyptian diplomacy. Egyptian diplomacy has four objectives: (1) stay on good terms with the Americans; (2) reduce Israeli power, with an ultimate view to reducing Israel to an Egyptian dependency; (3) avoid outright war between Egypt and Israel; (4) assert Egyptian leadership within the Arab world.
Egypt has no interest in peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because this would enhance Israel's position globally and regionally, which contradicts objective #2. Egypt also doesn't want war betwen Israel and the Palestinians to spiral into a regional conflict, because this would either drag Egypt in (contradicting objective #3) or force Egypt to the sidelines while other Arab powers assert leadership in the conflict against Israel (contradicting objective #4). Given this fact, it makes little sense for Egypt to be actively undermining Arafat - or even asserting that they are ready to do so - unless Mubarak perceives that this is what the Americans want (objective #1). That Mubarak is saying things like this, then, should give comfort to those of us who think Bush is going wobbly.
But we should also remember that Mubarak was one of those who urged Arafat to spurn the offer at Camp David, and specifically to refuse to make any concessions on Jerusalem. Egypt actively promoted the intifadeh when it served its national interests, and continues to turn a blind eye - or worse, lend encouragement - to elements in Egypt that supply the terrorists with weapons and intelligence to commit atrocities against Israeli civilians. But they respond rationally to incentives. We should be sure to continue to supply the right ones.