Eastern Mediterranean Roundup – 19 August 2013


– Fighting continues in the Sinai Peninsula with Israeli and Egyptian forces cooperating more than they ever have before.   At least 24 egyptian policemen have died in a jihadi ambush at Rafa on the Israeli border.  The Israelis tell me that they are very hopeful that the US will not cut off military aid to Egypt.


– Husni Mubarak may soon be released from prison.  He is a lucky man, Mursi might well have had him hanged on general principles.  Now….  The shoe is on the other foot.  BTW, the search for Mubarak's "billions" of stolen money never got anywhere.  They found a few hundred million.  In the ME that is chicken feed.  Egyptians tell me that Amre Mousa is the preferred candidate of the military for an eventual presidential election.  He is a non-entity with a long history.


– UN chemical weapons investigators began work in Syria today.  They are to determine if CW was used and by whom.  They are at work in spite of US obstructionism in New York.  IMO the result of their work may be the next big embarassment for Obama.  There is a reason why the Syrian government is so willing to have the UN investigate this matter.


– The US media in its eagerness to support the naive poliicy of the Obama Administrations and the Congress continues to exagerate the importance of the 1.3 billion $ that we give Egypt in the form of credits we do not expect to have repayed.  Egypt has reacted to this talk.  Their government has now stated that it, too, will examine its relations with states that have sought to "interfere" with Egypt's internal affairs.  The Gulf will easily replace moneys lost in disappeared US aid.  The highly complex equipment provided by the US to Egypt in the expectation that Egypt could be a worthwhile internation "player" is not needed by Egypt.  The material exceeds Egypt's needs and capacity for absorption.  For the Egyptians the possession of such equipment is a matter of national pride.  Egyptian forces are really internal security forces.  It does not matter if they want to admit that or not.  The kind of equipment they really need is widely available on international markets.  At the same time, to prevent sales of spare parts for equipment now in Egyptian hands, the US Government would have to take executive or legislative action to prevent private sales of spare parts to the Egyptian government.  Would they really want to do that to companies like Lockheed-Martin and General Dynamics?  Personnel training?  Don't kid yourself, there are lots of places for very fine training.  India comes to mind.   And lastly, a rupture of relations would cost the US automatic overflight clearance priviliages and queueing privileges in the canal. 


– And then there is the Kerryesque farce in Palestine where the Israelis are playing us for suckers once again and the Palestinians are enduring yet another humiliation.  The Israelis have no intention of creating a viable Palestinian state as a rival.  All else is tactics and playing nice with the ignorant Americans.


Ah, me.   pl    

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16 Responses to Eastern Mediterranean Roundup – 19 August 2013

  1. Thomas says:

    The 7am CCTV news update had one of their Egyptian Journalists live in which he said that on one of three charges would Mubarak be freed, but the other two would preclude his release from prison.

  2. PL or others! What countries in MENA have force projection capability external to their borders? Other than Israel of course.

  3. turcopolier says:

    Israel and Turkey in the air. Israel and Turkey on the ground but only on a very limited basis in both cases. pl

  4. Matthew says:

    Col: I can make a realist argument for cutting aid to Egypt: (1) to punish both Egypt and Israel for creating problems for us; and (2)to distance ourselves from Egypt’s inevitable descent–which, as you have copiously noted, we cannot prevent. Too many people, an uncompetitive economy, etc.
    If the IDF is already facing a “$20 billion” shortfall in its “needs,” how poetic to make the Israelis (instead of us) pay the Egyptians to maintain the Peace Treaty? Moreover, a financially strapped Israel won’t be able to afford complicating our already-complicated relationship with Iran.

  5. mbrenner says:

    It is a challenge to find the appropriate metaphor for the misadventures that have passed as American foreign policy initiatives in the Middle East. One does come to mind as the rightn image for the plunges we have made into Iraq, Afghanistan and – most recently- Obama’s embrace of Mursi/the Brotherhood in Egypt.It is likely diving off a 50 foot cliff tied to a 60 foot bungy cord.

  6. Matthew says:

    Col: Pollard update. I got all weepy over this. See http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-Ed-Contributors/Restoring-Israel-to-greatness-323271
    “Israel also remains the only country in the world ever to voluntarily cooperate in the prosecution of its own intelligence agent, refusing him sanctuary, turning over the documents to incriminate him, denying that the state knew him, and then allowing him to rot in a foreign prison for decades on end, cravenly forgoing its right to simple justice for the nation and for the agent.”
    Boo hoo. He refers to his incarceration in America as rotting “in a foreign prison.” It’s time to start publically shaming the creeps who have lobbied for his release.

  7. Rd. says:

    ” the importance of the 1.3 billion $ that we give Egypt”
    Isn’t a significant portion of 1.3 (.9) that actually comes back to US via the military industry? (weapon purchases, etc.) so in effect, the 1.3 is a subsidy plan for the mil industry plus a small administration fee to the Egyptian army@!!!@
    has Mccain, etal lost their Mil Industry campaign funding?

  8. JohnH says:

    Egypt doesn’t need the useless, sophisticated toys that US aid provides. Israel, with its Mediterranean gas riches, doesn’t need aid either.
    If press reports are correct, and aid doesn’t buy influence in Egypt or Israel, why provide it?
    We already know that aid to Israel has no use but to gratify a few large political donors and line the pockets of over-fed defense contractors.
    I say, let’s do the taxpayer a favor and end the aid once and for all. Or has the political class forgotten about the deficit?

  9. Matthew says:

    JohnH: the political class only cares about campaign donations.

  10. Bobo says:

    Somehow during this chaotic period our good friends the Egyptians have not allowed their political squabbles to interfere with the operation of the Suez Canal. Thus the minor amount of aid we provide helps secure the economical transport of all the foreign goods we consume.
    Now I cannot come up with a rational reason to provide aid to Israel outside of our protection of religious radicals.

  11. turcopolier says:

    I believe that the Constantinople Convention and subsequent international agreements prevent Egypt from legally interfering with Suez Canal traffic even in wartime. pl

  12. confusedponderer says:

    Re: “Iraq did not solicit US combat intelligence support in the war against Iran. … that was offered at the urging of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who were frightened of Iran”
    To what extent to you think that fear persists or has returned? Is it nowadays more an expression of general resentment of Shia?
    And is the resulting eagerness of Saudi Arabia and of midgets like Qatar an expression of their actual relative strength and safety? They’d probably thread more lightly if there were actually afraid of Iran. Do they behave as bellicose as they do because they feel they can get away with it? Side effect of US guarantees?
    If so, it is just as it is with Israel – without the US backing them they’d need to be more accommodating.
    I wonder whether DC is aware of what harm such guarantees can cause. They may just up the ante again and again just in order to preserve face and – pathos! – stand tall with an ally (behaving foolishly and recklessly, but why bother). I think that is currently a part of the US imperial instinct. Emblematic was McCain and the neo-cons, following such instinct, backing Georgia vs Russia – in a fight that Georgia foolishly picked!
    Seeing that, I think of Serbia and Imperial Russia in 1914. Guarantees are IMO very foolish if they come carte blanche. It was after all that unconditional Nibelungentreue brought Hungarian-Austrian empire and the German empires down together. At the same time, Imperial Russia’s encouragement of Serbia was their undoing.

  13. turcopolier says:

    As you suggest the Saudis and Kuwaitis no longer have any fear of Iran. Their posing about this is part of their policy of manipulation. pl

  14. Mark Kolmar says:

    @mbrenner, If Obama wanted to side with Mursi, much less “embrace”, the administration could have signaled a willingness to explore the question of whether Mursi was removed by a coup. By law, aid would stop. The statement I heard was that they do not want to make a determination.
    Regarding the export of U.S. politics – like it’s that great. The main feature is that all but the most radical elements have representation, or at least a set of funnels to yell into. $1.3B for Egypt sounds fair.

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