ElBaradei, The Moderate Egyptian Warmonger
Given the senseless and growing number of rocket and terrorist attacks against Israel from Gaza, it is not much of a stretch to think that the Israelis - not in the short term, but perhaps as early as next year - could be forced into a second Gaza war. And if it came to an invasion, there could be no half-measures. Such a war would have as its aim the destruction of the jihadist proto-government called Hamas. Yet this could easily play into the hands of the Gaza-based jihadis who have wanted all along to provoke the Arab regimes to go to war alongside them.
Even the Egyptian military which is now in control recognizes the threat that Hamas symbolizes. Egyptian Armed Forces Supreme Council head Gen. Tantawi says they intends to oversee a civil state, and that "Egypt will never be Iran or Gaza". The idea that Egypt's military might have a moderating influence on whatever political authorities emerge -- most likely tainted, if not run outright, by the Muslim Brotherhood -- is not an entirely unfavorable outcome.
One imagines a pre-Erdogan Turkey, in which the military helped maintain a fairly robust commitment to secularism for decades. Though one can't help but question the military's ability to keep Islamists in check, given their willful collusion with Muslim fanatics that have been attacking Egypt's Christians these past weeks.
But now we have a man the West still generally regards as a moderate contender for the role of President (despite his publicized relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood during the early stage of the revolution), the former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei. He says that if he became President, "If Israel attacked Gaza we would declare war against the Zionist regime."
There don't appear to be any conditions attached to this promise. Let us imagine ElBaradei (or someone less "moderate" than him; there is no shortage of such candidates) wins an election. Hamas now feels it has an ironclad guarantee of full-on Egyptian military support in the event of a war. All Hamas has to do is fire off a relatively small portion of their arsenal, perhaps just a thousand missiles and mortar shells, and Israel will be obligated to respond.
Naturally, Israel will have no support for any invasion of Gaza, no matter how many rockets are fired. It could be 100. It could be 10,000. But it is unlikely even in this situation that an Israeli counter-attack would be viewed as "self-defense". Israel would have to act alone, without the cover of a United Nations mandate.
Meanwhile, if Egypt is willingly dragged into the conflict, it is easy to see the conflict escalate. Suddenly, it's 1973 all over again, with a headlong united Arab war on Israel.
That is what Hamas wants. It now seems to be what ElBaradei wants. And whethr or not the Egyptian army is itself ready or willing for such a catastrophic conflict, the question is -- is this what Egyptians want? Because it seems some politicians are already campaigning on it.
Jonathon Narvey is the Editor of The Propagandist