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Tuesday June 15, 2010 8:04 AM (EST+7)
ANALYSIS: Egypt in awkward position via Gaza blockade

Read more: Egypt, Gaza Strip, blockade, Middle East politics

RAMALLAH, June 15 (JMCC) - Pressure inside the Arab world and throughout the international community has been mounting on Israel to lift the three year blockade of the Gaza Strip, putting Israel's erstwhile ally, Egypt, in an awkward position regarding its own complicity in the siege.

Israel has also been contemplating a change in policy toward Gaza, which may include a complete handover to the international community of Gaza's welfare and security, closing off all crossing points into Israel.

If such action were to be taken, the brunt of Gaza's needs would largely be put on Egypt, which maintains the other border for the beleaguered Strip.

Egypt, the only nation aside from Israel to control a crossing into Gaza, has its own domestic political reasons for wanting the strip to remain closed. It views Hamas, the radical Islamist group that controls the territory, as an ally of Egypt's foremost opposition movement: the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian officials worry that any opening of the territory could have negative political repercussions for President Hosni Mubarak's government.

But since May 31, when Israeli commandos killed nine activists in a melee aboard a Turkish aid flotilla that was bound for Gaza, Egypt's stance has become increasingly awkward as calls have intensified for the blockade of the narrow coastal strip to end. Even as Turkey's popularity in the region has skyrocketed following its denunciations of Israel's tactics, Egypt, Jordan and other Sunni powers have come under attack for not doing more to help the 1.5 million Palestinians living under siege in Gaza.

You basically had complicity on the part of the Egyptians, the Jordanians and others to keep Hamas isolated, and now that's been overturned by the flotilla disaster, said a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The flotilla raid has emboldened Hamas and dealt a fresh blow to Arab moderates who favor Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement. It has also highlighted Egypt's waning influence in the region, particularly its inability to mediate a reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas, which have been divided since a bloody power struggle in 2007 left Hamas in control of Gaza.

Read the full analysis at The Washington Post...






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