Political transition in Egypt is generating substantial risks – but also golden opportunities. The Obama administration should take advantage of Israel's and Syria's newfound strategic vulnerability to push for a peace deal.
College Park, Md.
The resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the ensuing political transition in Cairo has created a wave of uncertainty over the strategic politics of the Middle East, carrying both risks and opportunities for US interests and allies in the region. One potential and less-than-obvious opportunity is to relaunch peace talks between Syria and Israel.
Admittedly, most American policymakers are focused squarely on the risks. Many analysts are trying to gauge the likelihood that a new government in Cairo, responding to popular demands, could decide to cancel its peace treaty with Israel.
It’s an understandable concern, but the evidence suggests that post-Mubarak Egypt will remain a peace partner to Israel. The Egyptian military has issued a statement suggesting that Egypt will respect all international treaties it has signed. Meanwhile, alarmist commentary that suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood could “take over” the country and terminate the peace treaty with Israel is baseless and sensationalist. The Muslim Brotherhood is likely to be a force in post-Mubarak Egypt, but the movement will neither monopolize nor dominate national policy and political opinion because its support base remains relatively small, and its ability to expand is limited.
Yet this very alarmism, in addition to internal threat perceptions in Syria, could revitalize the Syrian-Israeli peace track.
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