Palestinian Elephant in the Egyptian Room
There's an elephant in the room. Rather than look around it, Hala Mustafa takes to staring it down, challenging those in the room to stop ignoring it. Reading Blaming Hamas Sidesteps Regional Realities once was not enough. I read it again. An excerpt:
Since Saudi Arabia is committed to the Islamic political agenda, it should not surprise anyone that its pledges to the US contradict its real position regarding support for the Palestinian resistance and Hamas in particular. It has agreed to a large assistance package to the Palestinian Authority, which comes after the Arab League spearheaded the effort to unite the Arab world to fund Hamas under the banner of "saving the Palestinians".
Similarly, although Egypt signed the first peace accord with Israel and has played the role of mediator, its policy remains complex. Since a large part of the regime's legitimacy is based on its support of the Palestinian cause, it is fully dedicated to the "legitimate" national armed resistance. So, while the Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt, the regime gave full political recognition to Hamas -- which is part of the Brotherhood's transnational network -- even before the Palestinian legislative elections were held.
Accordingly, the "Egyptian-led mediation" has always revolved around reaching a truce between Israelis and Palestinians -- which remained fragile -- or, more recently, betting on giving Hamas time in order to preserve the regional status quo. This position is reflected continuously through the single voice of the state-controlled press and media which exclude any divergent views or opinions on this issue. Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, recently admitted in an Arabic-language interview: "Egypt has never pushed Hamas to recognise Israel." In light of this, it cannot be said that Hamas contradicts the mainstream policies of Arab governments, either radical or moderate.
For commentary on Mr. Mustafa's editorial effort, I borrow Judith Kilinghoffer's words.
There is nothing new in his argument. It is one I have made many times over the years. What is new is to have it made by a member of the Egyptian establishment such as an editor of the semi-official Al Ahram. What is important is the reason he made it. He recognized that reform agitation will fail again unless the opposition is willing to go after "the sacred cow" of Arab politics which is the Palestinian issue.