Egpyt’s military rulers led by 57-year old Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi got more than they bargained for evicting 61-year-old Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi July 3. Elected July 24, 2012 in Egypt’s first democratic election, Morsi proceeded to take his orders from the Brotherhood’s 70-year-old “supreme guide” Mohammed Badie. Instead of reflecting the will of the Egyptian people, Morsi did the bidding of the Brotherhood, prompting nationwide revolts, sending millions to the streets in the largest protests since a grassroots movement drove 82-year-old U.S.-backed autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power Feb. 11, 2011. Celebrating in Cairo’s revolutionary Tahrir Square, Egyptians hoped for a better future only to pass the baton to a new type of theocratic dictator, someone Nobel Peace Prize-winning, former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei called “Egypt’s new pharaoh.”
Battling in the streets, Egypt’s normally calm streets have been turned into a civil war, with Muslim Brotherhood-backed Islamists engaging the military in violent street protests. Compounding the picture are new charges against Morsi, accusing him of collaborating with Gaza’s Hamas to spring him out of jail in 2011, causing numerous deaths to Egyptian law enforcement. For his year in power, Morsi gave Hamas a blank check to run guns and rockets through tunnels in the Gaza Strip. Hamas blames Israel for Gaza’s blockade but won’t admit they’re at war with the Jewish State. Mubarak’s government honored a 1979 peace treaty etched into the history books by the assassinated Egyptian leader Anwar Sedat. Since Morsi took office June 30, 2012, he gave Hamas free reign to spread terrorism from Gaza into the Sinai Peninsula where al-Qaeda has flourished in recent years.
Since taking power July 3, el-Sissi has tried to shut down Gaza’s warren of smuggling tunnels, delivering vital goods to Gaza’s 1.7million Palestinians, including supplying arms and rockets to Hamas militants. “Hamas is responsible for 1.7 million Palestinians who need food, fuel and other goods to continue their lives. Israel does not allow all goods into Gaza, and exports are also banned, so Hamas feels embarrassed for being unable to meet the needs of Gaza residents,” said Gaza economic analyst Mohsen Abu Ramadan. Ramadan forgets that Hamas rejects all peace treaties with Israel, declares a state of war and continues its mission to destroy the Jewish State. If Hamas would renounce its war with Israel, join forces with the Ramallah-based government of Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Mahmoud Abbas, Israel would gladly explore bilateral relations.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zohri begged Egypt’s new military leaders to stop shutting down tunnels, claiming Gaza’s lost $230 million in trade. Zohri claims that 80% of the tunnels have been destroyed, putting Gaza’s 1.7 million Palestinians in dire straits. With Secretary of State John Kerry pressing for new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the time is right for Hamas to finally join forces with 73-year-old PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas’ 50-year-old leader Ismail Haniyeh should stop smuggling arms, firing missiles and plotting terror attacks and join Abbas in accepting U.N. Resolution 242, recognizing Israel’s right to exist. Putting the Gaza population in a state of war causes the widespread shortages of food and medicine, not Israel’s unwillingness to play ball with Palestinians. Whatever doesn’t work in Gaza, Hanniyeh has a choice to change directions and make peace.
When Morsi and the Brotherhood came to power in June 30, 2012, Hamas thought they could continue armed resistance against Israel. When the military booted out Morsi July 3, Hamas no longer had an ally in Cairo. Without Cairo, Hamas relies on waning support from Turkey and Qatar. When the Saudi-funded Wahhabi war against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad started March 11, 2011, Palestinian’s leader-in-exile Khalid Meshaal joined the fight to topple al-Assad. For over 20 years, Meshaal had orchestrated a guerrilla war against Israel from Damascus. Now joining other Sunni radical groups—including al-Qaeda—to topple al-Assad, Meshaal joins the Sunni assault on al-Assad’s minority Alawite Shiite government. When President Barack Obama announced June 14 he’d back rebels seeking to oust Bashar al-Assad, it put the U.S. government on the side of al-Qaeda.
Rioting in Cairo and other Egyptian cities shows just how close Egypt is to civil war. Cracking down on the Brotherhood is the only way el-Sissi can maintain law-and-order. When el-Sissi decided to take down Morsi, he did so to honor the vast numbers of Eyptians that rejected Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. If Hamas really wants a better standard of living for Gaza, they need to stop the war against Israel and join forces with Abbas’ Ramallah-based government. Whatever past grievances, Palestinians have a golden opportunity to finally nail down a Palestinian State. Had it not been for the 1967 Six Day War, there would be no territory for a Palestinian State. Instead of rehashing old wounds—including the “right of return”—Palestinians need to end their civil war, make peace with Israel and cut the best deal possible for an independent state on Israel’s spoils of the 1967 War.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.