Crossfire War – Egypt Pres. Mubarak Meets Iran Envoy First-Abbas Met Briefly

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Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – CAIRO – GAZA WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Amman – Baghdad – Beirut – Damascus – Ramallah – Gaza – El Arish – Cairo/Mubarak – Jerusalem – Paris – Rome – London – Washington; Egypt Pres. Mubarak Meets Iran Envoy First – Egypt Arrests Palestinian Terror Cell with Explosive Belts – 10,000 Palestinians Remain in Sinai with Hundreds of Gunmen – Eilat on High Alert

Night Watch: CAIRO – It is extremely significant the first meeting Egypt President Hosni Mubarak had on Wednesday, concerning the control of the Rafah Terminal on the Egypt-Gaza border, was with the Speaker of Iran’s Majlis (Parliament) Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel. It is an acknowledgement of Tehran’s role in causing and controlling the situation through Hamas, which Iran had explode the wall a week ago. The explosion was symbolic of not only opening up the border and the Sinai Peninsula to Palestinian militants but also of opening up Cairo and Hosni Mubarak to Tehran’s influence. The explosion was Iran’s way of being subtle; the inference being worse would happen if Tehran’s view was not given a serious hearing. Xinhua and Egypt’s official news agency MENA reported no details of the meeting were released or even the duration of the meeting but I suspect Haddad-Adel told Mubarak Egypt should not interfere with the Palestinians using the Sinai as another front against Israel. Otherwise, Egyptian security would be attacked also. The military reality was probably stressed during the meeting and so far Iran prefers it only target’s Israel but if need be Islamic governments who refuse to support the war would be attacked also. I don’t think Mubarak has much choice right now, except risking war with Iran, which is going to happen as the Islamic radicalism attacking Israel will also be directed at him. Mubarak’s position is completely defensive. [XINHUA]

El Quseima – Despite Tehran’s convincing and explosive position it will not receive complete support within Egypt’s government and security units. Haaretz and al-Ahram have reported Egypt has arrested a five-member Palestinian terror cell with explosive belts that were planning a suicide attack inside Israel, which they planned to enter through Israel’s border with Sinai. The border runs from the Gaza Strip south to the Gulf of Aqaba and Israel’s port city of Eilat, 125 miles unfenced and extremely porous. This is Iran’s new angle of attack. Other Palestinians were arrested carrying blueprints of the border crossings between Sinai/Israel and the location of security posts and personnel. Sniper rifles and more explosives were also found. [HAARETZ]

Eilat – With hundreds of armed Palestinians in the area Debka reports Israel has placed its port city Eilat, on the Gulf of Aqaba, on high alert. The alert covers port facilities and military bases in and around the city. Egyptian security and Israeli intelligence have no idea on the movements and hideouts of the Palestinian militants. [DEBKA]

Cairo – The Jerusalem Post reports, according to officials of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah, West Bank, 300-500 gunmen from Hamas-Islamic Jihad have not returned to the Gaza Strip. They have found refuge with Bedouin tribes and Egyptian families in the Sinai. The opening of the Rafah Terminal has allowed tons of explosives and various weapons to enter Gaza along with tons of drugs. Drug sales have long been one of the ways terrorists groups raise money. Egypt has detained more than 100 Palestinians and Al-Ahram, quoting “informed sources”, reports another terror cell was arrested in the possession of maps of the exact location of Israel Defense Force (IDF) bases with the size and composition of the units at each base. [JPOST]

This state of chaos, engineered by Tehran, seems to have inspired serious alarm and debate within Egypt’s government. Arab diplomats have estimated as many as 10,000 Palestinians remain in the Sinai which has caused some Egyptian officials to refer to it as an invasion as opposed to Hamas-Iran calling it a liberation. One Egyptian official stating, “The Hamas people appeared to forget they had invaded Egypt.” The geography of this debate is going to expand and will soon include Iran as more of Egypt’s government blames them as they see Tehran’s influence spread, instead of accusing Israel. An influence more of a threat to Egypt’s establishment than it is to Israel. Iran will be accused of not only causing the crisis but exploiting it for the purpose of manipulating-controlling the region. This reflects the sharp divisions within Egyptian society, some of whom agree with Tehran and its opposition to the West while others are decidedly opposed to Tehran.

Rafah – It seems President Mubarak’s meeting with an angry Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority was over and done with very quickly. Al Jazeera reported Abbas made have made some suggestion of creating a buffer zone and emerged from the meeting demanding Hamas end what he calls its “coup” as he called Hamas illegitimate. His influence cannot begin to match Tehran’s and he is increasingly isolated. His international supporters the European Union (EU) and Washington are on the fringes merely making statements. [ALJAZEERA]

In the meantime the Hamas delegation arrived after first showing it was in control of the terminal by allowing television cameras and reporters watch Hamas officials, Mahmoud al-Zahhar, former Palestinian Foreign Minister, Said Siyam, former Interior Minister and Hussam Abu Hashi, pass through the terminal after their passports were stamped by Hamas guards. Earlier a firefight almost broke out between Egyptian soldiers and Hamas guards as the Egyptians attempted to prevent Palestinians from driving through until Hamas fired into the air. al-Zahhar stated more than just the Rafah Terminal would be discussed with President Mubarak. Israel’s continued blockade of Gaza would be mentioned and disputes with the Palestinian Authority. Tehran has made certain Hamas will receive a much more serious hearing.

Beit Hanoun – Fighting in the Gaza Strip continued as Xinhua reports a special Israeli army unit invaded Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza and engaged in a gunbattle for more than two hours that resulted in the deaths of two Palestinian militants. Earlier Wednesday Islamic Jihad fire mortar shells at IDF positions near central Gaza. [XINHUA]

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Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.