Unrest in Egypt could lead to Israel's worst nightmare
For Israel, the popular uprising against the Mubarak regime raises the specter of its worst strategic nightmare: collapse of the peace treaty with Egypt, the cornerstone of its regional policy for the past three decades
...in a worst case scenario, democratic or Islamic forces were to come to power denouncing Israel and repudiating the peace deal, that could herald the resurrection of a major military threat on Israel's southern border.
The largely American-equipped and American-trained Egyptian army — by far the most powerful military in the Arab world — numbers around 650,000 men, with 60 combat brigades, 3500 tanks and 600 fighter planes.
A hostile government in Cairo could also mean that Egypt would be aiding and abetting the radical Hamas regime in neighboring Gaza, rather than, as at present, helping to contain it.
Worse: If there is a domino effect that also leads to an anti-Israel regime change in Jordan, with its relatively large Islamic political presence, Israel could find itself facing an augmented military threat on its eastern border, too.
That could leave it even worse off than it was before 1977, facing a combined military challenge from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinians -- with the added menace of a fundamentalist Iran that seeks to acquire nuclear weapons.
...instead of democracy in Egypt, there could well be a two-stage revolutionary process -- an initial quasi-democracy, overtaken within months by the emergence of an autocratic Islamic republic under the heel of the Muslim Brotherhood.
It would be similar to what happened when the United States supported pro-democracy forces against the Shah in Iran in the 1970s, only to see the emergence of the fundamentalist Ayatollahs. Moreover, in the event of an eventual Muslim Brotherhood victory, the big regional winner would be fundamentalist Iran.
However the events in Egypt play out, they will clearly have an impact on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The very notion of a threat to the peace with Egypt will almost certainly further reduce the Netanyahu government's readiness to take risks for peace.
In a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Jerusalem on Monday, Netanyahu re-emphasized the importance he attaches to the security element in any peace package -- "in case the peace unravels." As for the Palestinians, the Egyptian protests could trigger Palestinian demonstrations pressing for statehood -- without peace or mutual concessions.
Either way, the events in Egypt are not good news for those advocating Israeli-Arab peacemaking. They could push efforts to resolve the conflict back several decades.
One aspect of this upheaval in the Middle East is this: It will have prophetic significance. These events are too close to the approaching battles that we know are coming, and Egypt will probably be involved in the early part of this continuum. We are watching the evolution of events which will lead into the prophetic battles described in Psalm 83, Isaiah 17 and Ezekiel 38-39.
Its all coming together - and coming together at breathtaking speed. Jordan could be next as their turmoil is in the early stages.
And don't forget Lebanon, as that situation is also rapidly evolving.
Israel is indeed in the eye of the storm.