Reopen the Israeli Embassy in Cairo

Feb. 21 2019

During Egypt’s 2011 revolution, a group of rioters attacked the Israeli mission to Egypt and destroyed the building that housed it; thereafter the embassy’s staff returned to Israel. Although order, and normal relations with Jerusalem, have long since been restored, Israel hasn’t acquired a new embassy and its reduced diplomatic staff in Egypt has been returning home every weekend. The Foreign Ministry recently ordered the staff to stay in Cairo for the weekend—a decision that Izhak Levanon, the former ambassador to Egypt, praises but finds insufficient:

It isn’t viable to lean the countries’ relations on one leg (security-intelligence); the [diplomatic and political leg is also] needed to ensure stability. The current Egyptian regime, headed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, doesn’t hide its good relations with Israel and is fostering a positive atmosphere. This provides a window of opportunity to implement full-fledged, proper diplomatic relations. The Egyptian parliament’s decision to extend Sisi’s term in office for many more years opens the window even further, giving the two countries time to stabilize their relationship on more than just the one leg.

To restore diplomatic relations to pre-2011 normalcy, Israel must quickly find a new building for its embassy and staff, including a consular-services department working to encourage mutual tourism and promote Israeli interests in Egypt—precisely as the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv operates. . . . In the stormy Middle East, close relations between Israel and Egypt are vitally important.

The Foreign Ministry, to be sure, has to contend with complex challenges across the globe, but Israel’s relations with Egypt need to be prioritized. We must not miss this window of opportunity or squander the current regional climate to re-establish the Israeli presence in Cairo as it was before 2011. The Israeli-Egypt peace accord includes agreement on fully operational embassies. [Israel] must move forward with determination to bring this to fruition.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Egypt, General Sisi, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy

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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Read more at Foreign Policy

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