Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – RAFAH – GAZA WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Amman – Baghdad – Damascus – Beirut – Ramallah – Gaza – El Arish – Rafah/Cairo – Jerusalem – Paris – Rome – London Washington; Egypt Issues Ultimatum to Hamas/PA – Come to An Agreement Or Egypt Will Seal Border – Gunfire At Karem Salem Crossing on Israel – Gaza – Egypt Border – Lebanon Pm Saniora States Israel Preparing to Attack Again
Night Watch: RAFAH – The improved relations between Tehran/Cairo spoken of recently by Iran Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was an illusion. The myth of Iran/Egypt strategic relations, cooperation against the West and Israel, was shattered yesterday as the Jerusalem Post reports the government of President Hosni Mubarak issued an ultimatum to both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) which said in effect come to an agreement or Egypt will seal the Gaza/Egypt border and permit no more movement of Palestinian people. A Hamas official stated, “The Egyptian message was very tough. They basically said that they will no longer tolerate the anarchy at their border and would take drastic measures to protect their sovereignty.” And this ultimatum was issued before Egyptian officials even met Hamas negotiators led by Mahmoud Zahar, who intended to propose joint control with Egypt, removal of international monitors and no longer permitting Israel to regulate the Rafah Terminal. Zahar responded to questions about Hamas not being granted a major presence, “Talk about a partial role contradicts reality.” He warned any attempt to deny Hamas a role in controlling the border will fail.[JPOST]
The reality was of course set in motion by the explosions, set by Hamas last week, that opened the border that not only temporarily eased the conditions caused by Israel’s economic blockade but also increased the chances of Tehran using Hamas to unite with the Egyptian opposition led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization which created Hamas. Taher a-Nunu, Hamas spokesman stated, in reference to the 2005 Gaza agreement led by Washington, that controlled the border until now, “That agreement is dead. As far as we are concerned, it does not exist. Abbas wants to help the Israeli occupation return to the Rafah border and this is totally unacceptable. We won’t allow anyone to restrict the movement of Palestinians any more. The Rafah border crossing should be controlled only by Palestinians and Egyptians.” But based on the ultimatum from Cairo the Egyptian government is not interested in working with the Palestinians as if their situation can be ignored.
Cairo – That is the non-negotiable, ultimatum confronting Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal as he arrives in Cairo today from Damascus. It is reported, due to Hamas’ close relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, Meshaal will not be permitted to meet Mubarak directly. Al Jazeera reports he will negotiate instead with Egypt Foreign Minister Ahmed Abulgheit and the head of Egypt’s intelligence service Omar Sullieman. There is obviously no room for agreement, but right now Haaretz, over its breaking news wire-caption, DPA reports Mubarak is currently meeting a senior Iranian official. My guess is he is delivering Tehran’s ultimatum that Hamas be allowed to regulate the uninhibited movement of Palestinian people otherwise Iran will find another Egyptian government they can work with. [ALJAZEERA]
Karem Salem – There are conflicting reports about gunfire heard Thursday east of the Rafah Terminal at the Karem Salem crossing where the borders of Egypt/Gaza/Israel meet. Haaretz reports at first Egyptian security thought it was an explosion but later realized it was gunfire but there is no word on who was involved or on which side the shooting took place. Since there is no negotiable solution in sight this is a small indication fighting is going to resume at any minute on what is now a three sided front-Egypt/Palestinians/Israel. Hamas-Tehran do not intend to lose any of the momentum created by the initial explosive opening of the Rafah Terminal and the massive support they received from the Palestinian community. [HAARETZ]
Beirut – The Jerusalem Post reports, after seeing the Winograd Committee’s findings on Israel’s performance in the 2006 war against Hezbollah in south Lebanon, it has convinced Lebanon Prime Minister Fuad Saniora the report proves Israel intends to attack Lebanon again. The Winograd Committee concludes by saying Israel should prepare for the next war, therefore, according to Saniora, “it (Israel) had not learned from its defeat.” He continued by saying, “If Lebanese people are united they can repel such an offensive.” Tehran will use Hezbollah to lead the unity. Another war with Israel is the only thing that can bring Lebanon together. [JPOST]