Crossfire War – Diplomatic Charade – Veiled Threats at Sharm el-Sheikh

Crossfire War – CAIRO – AMMAN – TEHRAN WATCH – West Asia Theatre: Cairo – Damascus – Tehran – Gaza – Ramallah – Riyadh – Amman/Jerusalem – Beirut – Paris – Rome – Washington; Egypt Pres. Mubarak Allows Hamas Convoy to Leave for Damascus and Military Planning Against Jerusalem – Sharm el-Sheikh Charade

Night Watch: SHARM EL-SHEIKH – Regional hatred against Israel in Western Asia is becoming more apparent, not so much in official statements of course, but in moves made behind the scenes in governments like Cairo – Ramallah – Amman.

Debka reports that on Saturday Egypt President Hosni Mubarak boldly and proudly condemned the Hamas military takeover of Gaza as a coup. Then on Sunday he allowed 15 Hamas officials, led by the Hamas Interior Minister Siad Sayam, who engineered Hamas’ defeat of Fatah, to be escorted, in a VIP convoy, from the Egyptian-Sinai-Gaza border terminal at Rafah to Cairo International Airport where the Hamas officials boarded a plane for Damascus.

After their arrival they will then engage in planning for the next wave of fighting against Israel this summer, a larger version of last year’s war, which was mainly between Hezbollah and Israel in south Lebanon though it was started by Hamas almost a year ago to the day in Gaza. [DEBKA]

At the same time at the Egyptian Red Sea resort at Sharm el-Sheikh, which has now become legendary as a conference center for diplomatic charades and negotiations on the region in the name of peace, Mubarak is again playing the responsible host head of state to Jordan King Abdullah, Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

But despite the formal and official deceptive remarks between them all, after all the smiles for the camera, there could be some off the record, not to veiled crticisms of Israel’s policy regarding the Palestinian community. And that the three Islamic heads of state will accuse Olmert and Israel of providing Islamic militants with constant reasons to attack the Jewish state due to Jerusalem’s oppressive policies.

Olmert may respond by saying for years after peace agreements were made, with countless Palestinian leaders, Israel was again under attack before the ink was dry and that militant groups, openly supported by Tehran-Damascus, never had any intention of establishing peaceful relations with Israel.

Olmert may even add Jerusalem knew the extremist groups could not have constantly threatened and attacked Israel without massive support from Islamic governments and not just Tehran-Damascus. And that is when the diplomatic tone could change.

Olmert and Israel noticed last year, as did the entire region, the enormous popluarity Hezbollah achieved throughout Western Asia during their war with Israel. As Tehran knew in advance, it would make Islamic radicalism more popular. Heads of state like Mubarak – Abbas – King Abdullah also know this, not to mention the recent events in Gaza, and therefore direct the popularity away from themselves and against the popular enemy-Israel.

In the meantime I personally saw King Abdullah address the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in June 2004 and he was not putting on an act when the stated the main problem with the regions’s stability is the Israeli/Palestinian issue. He stated that angriliy, which indicated he does not mind seeing Israel attacked in the name of it and I suspect His Majesty would also not mind if the West had less influence in regional affairs.

As has stated, moderates in the Islamic world want the Jihad to be moderately successful, extremists want it to be extremely successful, so when attacks against Israel increase, from Gaza, the West Bank and from South Lebanon, Mubarak will initially support them as his way of removing the potential criticism against him from Egypt’s population for not doing anything to support Palestinian people.

But his support may end when he sees Tehran emerging as the Islamic world’s leader even more so than it is now when Tehran goes one step further, beyond just sending financing and equipment, but actually committing ground forces in the field against Israel. When that happens relations between Cairo/Tehran will deteriorate further, from suspicious rivals to one of open hostility-war.

Because Mubarak has always hated Tehran’s government since the Iranian revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, even more so when Mubarak’s predecessor President Anwar al-Sadat was assassinated by Islamic radicals just two years later and Tehran named a street after the assassin.

Despite Mubarak agreeing with Tehran on the Palestinian-Israeli war, under no circumstances would he ever accept Iran’s leadership. When Tehran commits its ground troops this summer, all cooperation between Cairo-Damascus-Tehran will be over and Mubarak will be isolated and surrounded by governments, Tripoli-Khartoum-Riyadh that support Tehran and are quite willing to follow it.

Perhaps at Sharm el-Sheikh Mubarak is cooperating with Hamas under the illusion the war will only remain between Israel and Palestinians and he has ignored the serious preparations between Tehran-Damascus to not only enter the fighting but to use it and its enormous wave of regional popularity to remove heads of state less responsive.

A war of words already seems to have begun between Cairo/Tehran. Speaking from Damascus, Iran Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab-African Affairs, Mohammad-Reza Baqeri, responded to the accusations made by Egypt Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit who stated Tehran’s policies in the region are a threat to Egypt’s national security.

Baqeri called the minister’s remarks “unfriendly” and that Egypt was now playing a “blame game.” Baqeri then ominously expressed the hope Iran’s “Egyptian friends would act considering Iran’s friendly intentions towards themselves.” This seems to be a call for opposition leaders and groups in Egypt, supported by Iran, should now overthrow Mubarak.

Iran wants its “Egyptian friends” to rule Egypt. The gloves and masques are coming off. [IRNA]

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.