Now we see the Arab Spring in all its glory. Democracy in Egypt? Not yet. Enlightenment in Egypt? Absolutely not. So far the Arab Spring has brought us the Black Hole of Sinai, which sucks in all kinds of Islamic zealotry. The transformation of Egypt from a moderate state to a rocky one that cannot even maintain public order. A mass convergence on the Israeli embassy in Cairo. A violent break-in of that embassy. The flight of the Israeli diplomats from that embassy in the dead of night, like a gang of thieves.
U.S. President Barack Obama gave a nice speech in Egypt in June 2009. He gave a forceful speech about Egypt when he helped to bring down Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. But in the past six months Obama has done little to restore and to stabilize Egypt. That is because he was so busy with West Bank settlements and 1967 borders that he did not have the time to put forward a genuine Marshall Plan that could save the land of the Nile.
On Friday night he saved the day, but that wasn't enough to change the overall picture. On Obama's watch, Egypt is increasingly sinking into chaos while the Egyptian-Israeli peace is rolling into the abyss. Unless he wakes up soon, Egypt will be to Barack Obama what Iraq was to his predecessor, President George W. Bush. Obama will bury the peace that President Jimmy Carter brought.
Netanyahu has stood impressively proudly before the Palestinians over the past two years. He has stood proudly before Turkey over the past months. Honor. But as a result of the Netanyahu-Lieberman policy of honor, the conflict with the Palestinians did not simmer down before the Arab volcano exploded. As a result of the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu honor, Israel has escalated the face-off with Turkey in an era of extreme instability. Now the conflict with the Palestinians and the face-off with Turkey are amplifying each other, while they amplify hostility to Israel in the Arab world.
The expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Ankara found an echo in the extrication of the Israeli ambassador from Cairo.
The break-up of the alliance with the power to the north leads to the crumbling of peace with the power to the south. Under the leadership of a hard-line prime minister and an unbridled foreign minister, the national security policy is collapsing. Instead of Israel strengthening itself ahead of the expected hurricane, Israel insists on weakening and completely isolating itself.
Neither Obama nor Netanyahu brought about the strategic avalanche that is happening right before our eyes. The changes in the Middle East are tectonic transformations that no one controls. But the U.S. president has shown incomprehensible weakness that leaves a dangerous vacuum in the region. Israel's prime minister has shown no less incomprehensible obstinacy that has led Israel to lose every friend it has and has atrophied every alliance. In the face of unprecedented regional challenges there is no real American leadership and no Israeli initiative or creativity.
Blind and paralyzed, Obama and Netanyahu are standing on the bridge, watching the approaching storm and doing nothing.
Last week we lost Turkey and Egypt. Who knows what we'll lose next week.
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