שר החוץ המצרי, נביל פהמי, קרוב לוודאי, בדק ברמאללה האם פתח יכול להפיל את שלטון חמאס. אבו מאזן קרוב לוודאי ביקש שהצבא המצרי יעשה את העבודה בשבילו…

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Nabil Fahmi's visit in Ramallah- what does it mean?

Earlier this week the Egyptian foreign minister, Nabil Fahmi, visited Ramallah and met with PLO leader Abu Mazen. After the meeting he repeated in the press conference the same old notions that the Palestinian problem is on top of the Arabs concerns and that Egypt would help in promoting the internal Palestinian reconciliation.
This time we have to take this statement with great deal of reservation. Firstly, the Palestinian problem is far from being number one on the Egyptian priority- to the contrary, the Egyptians turned to hate the Palestinians now – not only Hamas – but in general. While Hamas allied with Muslim Brothers the Palestinians in general are perceived as such that did not reciprocate with the Egyptian people and did not support its revolution while the Egyptian people supported the Palestinian cause all along the years.
So, this time we have to ignore the formal statements and try to evaluate the real contents of the meeting according to the situation in Egypt and Egyptian regional interests.
First of all- Hamas is an enemy of the new civil government and as such we have to assume that the Egyptian guest tried to understand how Fatah can help in toppling Hamas government in Gaza and re-institute Fatah rule. Knowing the Palestinian state of mind, Abu Mazen most probably declined the idea of a Fatah takeover and preferred that the Egyptian army will do the job for him… anyway, the ideas that floated lately about reviving the old Rafah agreement that gave the role of controlling the border crossing to Ramallah's people are connected to this kind of ideas—having Fatah coming back to Gaza, replacing Hamas.
Israel tried to help Egypt in this respect by offering Erez border crossing as main gate for Gaza that will link Gaza directly through shuttle to the Jordan border.
Hamas reacted to those notions in two ways- first of all- completely rejecting the Erez crossing idea insisting on Rafah to stay the main gate for Gaza linking it to Egypt and not to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, and inviting the PLO factions to join Hamas government in Gaza while isolating Fatah especially in Gaza as candidate to replace Hamas rule in some point in the future.
On the same time we have to distinguish between the several factions of Hamas that are competing between themselves; Hamas is far of being united. The watershed is in supporting each one of the regional adversaries: while Khaled Mash'al is in the Sunnite side of equation- Gaza leadership is in the Iranian side of the equation.
Gaza insistence to keep the Rafah border crossing as the main gate for Gaza means keeping its strategic link through Sinai with Moslem Brothers in Egypt that is also inclined to get allied with Iran against Egyptian army and the Gulf.
We can see it already in the formation of the mob grouping in Sinai that are supported by Moslem Brothers – the assortment of Moslem Brothers-Iran alliance—it is a mixture of Hamas, Qaeda Bedouins, and Hizbullah personnel THAT manifest the nucleus of the future regional alignments. So, in this respect the Egyptian foreign minister's visit was about to confirm that while Moslem Brothers are on the Gaza side and hence looking for a linkage to Iran, the army side is looking to the other direction- linking Ramallah to the anti-Iran side of the equation.
What the PLO may claim in this respect is that through Khaled Mash'al – who belongs to the Sunnite side – Hamas can return to "the Palestinian tent" deserting Iran but there is no chance that Gaza leadership will accept it- to the contrary we assess that their link with Moslem Brothers and Iran will only deepen.

Sum up- the visit of the Egyptian foreign minister in Ramallah reflected the new circumstances in the region and Egypt's new priorities: while Moslem Brothers preferred Gaza, the army prefers Ramallah. Despite the lip service to the old "reconciliation" notion- what really interests Egypt now is finishing Hamas rule in Gaza- either by checking the prospects of Fatah return or internal changes that will bring about Mash'al taking the lead. These two eventualities are weak and close to zero chance of being materialized.