What do false goatees, megalomania, and President Mohamed Morsi have in common? Pharaonic rulership, according to a number of disgruntled Egyptians, quoted by The Guardian as believing their country to have acquired a “Mubarak with a beard” after Morsi declared presidential “immunity” from judicial oversight and the ability to pass laws as he pleases. The engineer-come-dark-horse-politician has subsequently been accused of betraying last year’s revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak and foreswore dictatorship.
Morsi had the hopes of Western countries riding on him, since his Islamic Brotherhood party is considered less “fundamentalist” than the Salafi party, and as a USC doctoral graduate (1982) and former assistant professor at CSUN, he perhaps seemed more “westernized” than his presidential challengers. He brokered the recent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after November’s Operation Pillar of Defense and was warmly praised by U.S. Secretary of State Clinton. President Obama, on the other hand, was not at all impressed by the September storming of the U.S. embassy in Cairo by mob demonstrators and commented that Egypt was “not an ally but not an enemy.” However, Morsi seemed the best negotiator in Middle Eastern crises, with still-President Assad of Syria occupied with a two-year rebellion that has killed many thousands of Syrians, and other countries busy with forming their own infant governments after the “Arab Spring” rebellions of two years ago — November’s agreement between Israel and Hamas only seemed to reinforce his status.
Now, with Morsi in the political doghouse over his power grab, what repercussions might this have for Israel? What options do the “sheep among wolves” (an allegory for the Jews from both the Midrash Tanchumah and Esther Rabbah of Aggadah) now have for diplomatic and physical survival? While I am no seasoned diplomat, perhaps an exploration of recent facts and history will provide the understanding necessary to making a reasonable assessment of Israel’s likely future opportunities.
According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, relations with Jordan have improved since the 2000-2005 Second Intifada, when Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel. King Abdullah II hosted a summit with the American, Israeli, and Palestinian governments in 2003 and visited the Israeli prime minister in 2004. The ambassador returned in 2005. This seems promising for Israel, especially as its Jordanian neighbor is situated near the Golan Heights and peace is key to the security of that border region. Although there doesn’t seem to be much tourism between the countries, there are Israeli manufacturing plants in Jordan as well as academic exchange.
The Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain) are not such positive prospects. Diplomatic and trade relations appeared to be improving from the time of the War of Independence, but with the Second Intifada, they cooled and have not yet improved. Israel’s trade representation in Oman closed, and has not yet reopened. The Maghreb Countries (Morocco, Mauritania, and Tunisia) mostly followed a similar route of diplomatic relations, with Morocco and Tunisia breaking off relations when the Second Intifada began. However, they have maintained commercial ties, and Israel’s relationship with Mauritania seems to be doing just fine. As for Mauritania voting to upgrade “Palestine” to a non-member observer state in the UN, this fact must be taken in the context that Mauritania would not be likely to side with Israel against other Islamic countries and risk losing significant face.
Lebanon is in the slightly awkward situation of having no formal diplomatic relations with Israel, while not being an official enemy either. The two countries are currently at peace, as tourists and residents near the Lebanese border of Israel can testify.
Israel currently has no diplomatic relations with Syria; the country is not even listed on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website as a country with which Israel has had diplomatic relations. Syria is not at all likely to come to Israel’s aid; after all, it attacked Israel in the War of Independence (1948), the Six-Day War (1967), the Yom Kippur War (1973), and the Lebanon War (1982).
It seems that Jordan and Mauritania would be Israel’s best bets for a peace agreement or ceasefire were it to come to war again. But it is not improbable that Morsi will make a comeback and, who knows? Maybe he will decide that Egypt could use Israeli technology to get Wi-Fi in some of those pyramids.
It looks like you’ve put a question mark in the area on the map where Eritrea is located. Israel and Eritrea have had diplomatic relations since Eritrea’s independence in 1993. In fact, Eritrea’s official name, the State of Eritrea is based off of Israel official title, the State of Israel. Likewise the Eritrean Defense Force is named off of the Israel Defense Force. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eritrea%E2%80%93Israel_relations
I agree with Jacob. Israeli-Eritrean relations are pretty secure.
As for Morsi, you never can tell with these quiet “second in command” types. But I think he will survive this unrest. And I also think that if he does not, Israel will be in far worse straights.
While Eritrea seems to formerly have had an unusually good relationship with Israel, much of the information cited by the Wikipedia article is outdated by over ten years (it’s from 2000). More recently, in 2008, the Eritrean government put out a statement that “[t]he people and Government of Eritrea express deep and unreserved sympathy to the innocent and defenseless Palestinian people in Gaza who are currently being subjected to unacceptable atrocities” and hopes that “the incoming Barack Obama Administration would assume its historic responsibility” (http://www.webcitation.org/5e5lajuRb).
The statement does not specify by whom the “atrocities” are committed. While Hamas has committed and continues to commit terrible crimes against Gazans, the immediate association that would jump to the minds of most people is that the “atrocities” are Israel’s work. This ambiguously worded statement does not sound like a statement of friendship from Eritrea to Israel.
Israel has also been struggling to deal with illegal immigrants, most of whom are from the Sudan and Eritrea (see the BBC article about it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19513645), and tensions as well as legal action have risen against it for its methods used. This most likely has caused at least some resentment between Israel and Eritrea, especially as Israel recently sent back some Eritrean immigrants to Egypt (possibly unwillingly), from where they had tried crossing over to Israel.
Also, my main source for this article was the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Relations, which does not mention Eritrea at all, indicating a lack of foreign relations (Syria is not mentioned either) or a reluctance to touch upon a sticky subject. Hence the question mark — it’s unclear what exactly the situation is.
Sorry to beat a dead horse, but here’s the address of the Israeli embassy in Eritrea: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Sherut/IsraeliAbroad/Continents/Africa/Eritrea/
And here’s the reaction of Jordanian Information Minister Sameeh Maaytah to Operation Pillar of Defense: “Israel’s aggressive policy placed the area again in a cycle of violence and instability. This additional hostility… closes all doors on negotiations and the achievement of political arrangements. Israel deprives the Palestinian people of their political and national right to create an independent state… Israel’s aggression needs to be stopped and the Palestinian people need to be protected.”
Should we now change the check to a question mark?
We need to distinguish “good relations” based on random statements from official diplomatic relations. It seemed from your article that the check, X, and question marks indicated the latter. It should also be clarified that Israel still does have diplomatic relations with Egypt, despite Morsi’s recent behavior.