Tuesday, July 16, 2002
Ha'aretz has a brief report on Ben-Eliezer's meeting with Mubarak. Doesn't sound like much went down.
The warnings about the Northern Front are real, though. I just finished reading Michael Oren's Six Days of War, and I remain struck by the fact that Syria was able to provoke such a massive conflict to no apparent purpose. Plus ca change, they are still at it, to as little purpose. Syria cannot possibly achieve its ultimate ambition (absorption of Lebanon, much of Israel and part of Jordan into a Greater Syria), and cannot achieve its nearer-term ambition (recovery of the Golan) through violence. The country is collapsing from economic stagnation and political corruption, is ruled by an idiot from a despised minority, is surrounded by enemies more powerful than it (Turkey, Israel, Iraq), is backed by a regime of questionable stability (Iran), and is in danger of falling into the crosshairs of the greatest power in the world as that power embarks on a war on terrorism. And what does the country do? Harbor and support a collection of that superpower's worst enemies. What are they thinking? Why do they think they are immune from attack?
But they do. Israel (and America) should give thanks every day that Egypt is still ruled by those who remember 1967, as well as 1973. The top priorities of Egypt's leadership, absolutely, are: stay close to the Americans and stay out of war with Israel. A distant second are their next two priorities: act to weaken Israel indirectly through diplomacy and through support for the Palestinians, and assert leadership within the Arab world. Why are these Egypt's priorities? Because 1967 taught them that Israel, if sufficiently determined, could destroy Egypt, and 1973 taught them that Egypt, even with the element of surprise and good discipline, could not achieve the destruction of Israel by force, if only because America would not permit it. So long as Egypt is ruled by people who remember those days - as Sadat did, as Mubarak does - it will labor strenuously to stay close to America and to stay out of war with Israel.
But what happens when their day passes?