Israel’s No-Longer Cold Peace with Egypt

July 13 2016

On Sunday, Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, came to Jerusalem and met with the Israeli prime minister. This was the first such high-level visit in nine years. Usually, talks have been conducted with Egyptian intelligence officials and out of the public eye, and have focused on security issues—specifically, containing jihadists in Gaza and Sinai. This very public visit, argues David Makovsky, is a sign that the two countries’ de-facto military alliance could be mutating into a diplomatic one:

Netanyahu has expressed concern that the Obama administration will consider supporting a UN Security Council resolution [about the Israel-Palestinian] conflict at year’s end. He views any such move as the equivalent of an imposed solution . . . that neither Israel nor the Palestinians could accept. Netanyahu is also concerned that a French peace initiative could gather steam and feed into a [similarly troublesome] Security Council resolution. . . .

Netanyahu is likely counting on the pressure [his meeting with Shoukry] creates for Mahmoud Abbas. While the PA president has had no problem rejecting Netanyahu’s call to resume talks, . . . bringing Egypt into the picture raises the cost of any such rejection. . . .

Beyond the Palestinian issue, . . . Shoukry was probably also curious about Netanyahu’s trip to Africa last week. Among other states, he visited Ethiopia, which is planning a Nile dam that could hurt Egypt’s access to the river’s water. Cairo seems to believe that Netanyahu’s visit could impact whether Ethiopia will agree to a water-sharing formula with Egypt.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Peace Process


The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey