In May and beginning of June Cairo and Washington will be holding talks on the Middle East settlement. A major obstacle to establish peace is the presence of Hamas forces in Palestine and their refusal to acknowledge Israel and continue fighting. Egypt is gradually drifting to the American side. Hard times are imminent for Hamas.
Egypt acquires a key role in Obama peace plan for the Middle East settlement. This country is the most populated state in Africa is one of most influential states in the Arab world. In the meantime, the US-Egypt activities have substantially intensified. For instance, the meeting between Obama and Mubarak is scheduled for the 25th of May.
However, the visit of the Egyptian President was postponed due to the death of Mubarak's grandson. Instead, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and the Chief of Egyptian Intelligence, General Omar Suleiman, an important figure in Hosni Mubarak’s team were sent to the USA .
It is worth noting that the visit of the Egyptian president was scheduled right after the departure of his Israeli colleague Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet, it is not clear what Egyptian Intelligence Chief and the foreign minister had to say to Obama. But they definitely could not evade the Israeli position.
Still the meeting between the presidents of Egypt and the USA will take place. But it would be not on the American territory but inside Egypt. Obama will visit Hosni Mubarak personally on June 6. What role in peaceful settlement is assigned to Cairo according to Washington? Pravda.Ru asked this question to Sergey Demidenko, an expert in the politics of Arab countries at the Institute of Strategic Estimates and Analysis.
“As far as the USA is concerned, it is evident that they stake on giving up the excess use of force. So Egypt is turning into one of the key parts in the process of negotiations. Egypt is one of the most active participants in the Middle East settlement. It is not only because of its traditional influence in the Arab world. The problem is in fact that Hamas due to the geographical reasons receives supplies through the Egyptian territory. This is the way the guerillas received all what they needed. There are two main routes: through tunnels in the sands of Sinai, or by sea. Considering the Israeli-imposed naval blockade, only one way is still possible – under the ground. It is not incidental that Omar Suleiman, the chief of Egyptian intelligence, went to the USA . Egypt realized the level of threat from Hamas lately and launched an active campaign against raiders across Egypt (to Palestine through Sinai and back). If desired, this struggle could be intensified.
Palestine was the stumbling block during President Netanyahu’s visit to the USA . In its present form (as a state) Palestine is not acceptable for Israel.
At the last meeting the two leaders avoided to talk about the “two states” as a guarantor of settlement what used to be the main topic for Barack Obama. The problem was in the fragility of the Netanyahu’s cabinet. The most irreconcilable position is occupied by Mr. Lieberman, the Israeli Foreign Minister who can ruin the coalition if Netanyahu makes up his mind to acknowledge Palestine as an equal state.
The situation proves that there is no unified Palestinian state. The West Bank of Jordan is occupied by Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah, who is positioned by the USA as an equitable partner. But Israel will not forget that a far more radical position in Gaza belongs to his radical Fatah opponents. Hence Fatah is merely incapable to control the situation in the area. In this case Israel gives up the possibility to talk about the Palestinian state. Something should be done to Hamas if we want to negotiate the recognition of the ‘unified Palestinian people.’ Only Egypt can influence it, though not to the full extent. We should understand that Hamas is not oriented strictly to a specific country or political grouping in the region and tends to maneuver between different trends. Nevertheless, his dependence on the Egyptian transit allows admitting some impact of Cairo.
Therefore, Hamas today is the most serious headache for Obama. The agenda lists two options for the trend of events: complete blockade of Gaza by Egypt aiming to transform Hamas into a manageable partner or deposition of its regime in Gaza. Considering Obama's sentiments, it is possible to assume that the preference would be given to the first option.