A Nightmare Alliance


A Nightmare Alliance

The warming Iran-Egypt relationship could become Israel’s greatest security threat.

For much of their history, the ancient Israelites were a friendless and despised people with more foes than friends. Among their enemies were the Philistines, a people fearsome in demeanor, brutal in war and equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry.

For 400 years the Philistines were the archenemy and number-one security threat to Israel. But it wasn’t the size of their army, their iron swords and chariots or their penchant for conflict that gave the Philistines the advantage. That was largely a function of their geographic situation.

In the northern and eastern parts of Israel, the land was mountainous and covered with thick forests, giving the Hebrews a rugged buffer and geographic strong point against encroaching enemies. The Mediterranean sat to the west. Geographically, it was on the open, undulating plains of their southern underbelly that the Israelites were most disadvantaged and vulnerable.

More than 3,000 years later, this geographic reality—and the strategic equation it imposes—has barely changed. The national security of the Jewish state depends largely on the entity that controls and dominates the southern Levant and eastern Mediterranean.

Stratfor founder Dr. George Friedman acknowledged this reality in 2007 in the context of Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip. “The only thing that could threaten the survival of Israel, apart from a nuclear barrage, would be a shift in position of neighboring states,” he wrote. “The single most important neighbor Israel has is Egypt” (June 19, 2007; emphasis mine throughout).

In modern times, Israel’s existence was especially precarious during the 1950s and early 1960s, when Egypt, under President Gamal Abdul Nasser, was at the vanguard of Arab hostility toward the Jewish state. This suddenly and miraculously changed in the late 1970s, when President Anwar Sadat reversed Nasser’s anti-Israel policy with the Camp David Accords and formed a “peace” treaty with Israel.

Since then, Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt has been the backbone of the national security equation of the Jewish state.

One reason for Cairo’s comparatively warm overtures toward Israel over the past 30 years has been its political and ideological divorce from Iran. This occurred after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and was sealed by the Iranian-orchestrated assassination of President Sadat in 1981. Naturally the disintegration of ties between Cairo and Tehran, and Egypt’s realignment with Israel, worked in Israel’s favor. In fact, Egypt’s antipathy toward Iran has been a pillar of Israel’s national security and a tremendous source of national confidence. The assurance that Egyptian-Iranian relations were non-existent enabled Israeli security officials to sleep at night.

But as the Trumpet has been reporting for some years now, those peaceful dreams are being replaced with a horrifying new reality: A major geopolitical realignment appears to be unfolding between Iran and Egypt. These countries are edging toward resuming a full-blown friendship.

On December 20, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sat down for a rare two-hour, face-to-face talk with Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. Larijani had broken the ice with Mubarak on an earlier trip in December 2007, and flew to Cairo last month to represent Tehran at a committee meeting for member states of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

During his short visit—which Egyptian sources revealed was an attempt by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to end tensions between Iran and Egypt—Larijani also conducted talks with his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Fathi Surur and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. “The message is offering a new Iranian approach to resolve outstanding issues,” an anonymous source inside the Egyptian government told the Los Angeles Times.

In what few considered a coincidence, Egypt’s president, who rarely travels because of his poor health, departed the day after his meeting with Larijani for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. In meetings with fellow Arab heads of state, Mubarak reportedly placed Arab-Iranian relations at the top of the list of discussion items.

Upon returning to Tehran, Larijani made a statement that ought to alarm every Israeli. Egypt and Iran do not differ in strategies regarding Israel, he said. “There may be differing views in tactics [over Israel] between Iran and Egypt but the strategies of the two countries are not different. Larijani, who is also a top aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that the strategy Iran is now pursuing aims to rally all of the Muslim world behind the Palestinians in a campaign against Israeli occupation. He also said Israel is upset by the growing cooperation between Egypt and Iran.

Meanwhile, in Israel, very few appear to be taking seriously the ramifications of an Iranian-Egyptian rapprochement. Caroline Glick ranks among the few: “For years Egypt has been the most outspoken Arab opponent of Iran’s moves towards regional hegemony. … Yet on Sunday, Mubarak hosted Ali Larijani, Iran’s former nuclear boss and current speaker of Iran’s parliament in Cairo. Following their meeting Mubarak traveled to the Persian Gulf for consultations on Iran’s nuclear program. Given Mubarak’s poor health, the fact that his meetings with Larijani sent him flying to Saudi Arabia indicate that something of major importance has just occurred.”

Very soon, it will become clear that a major new alliance is emerging in the Middle East. “The possibility of some sort of reconciliation between Iran and Egypt has substantial implications. … An opening between Egypt and Iran changes the entire dynamic of the Islamic world. Until recently, Egypt has played an extremely quiet role. If it opens ties with Iran, it is certainly a signal that it is prepared to play a more active, important and unpredictable role” (Stratfor, Jan. 2, 2008).

Consider that: Egypt as a “more active, important and unpredictable” player stands to revolutionize Middle Eastern politics!

Stratfor continued: “Egypt and Iran gain by flirting with each other. However, the United States and Israel do not want to see any sort of reconciliation between the two …. Iran, meanwhile, knows that Egypt will use the opening to extract concessions [from the U.S. and Israel]. Assuming that Egypt gets what it wants—which is likely to happen—what are the Iranians expecting as a reward for shilling for Egypt?” Glance at a map of the Middle East, or take a moment to consider the Philistines’ geographic position in relation to the Israelites.

By forging better relations with Egypt, Iran gains a much stronger presence at what is, geographically, Israel’s most vulnerable point!

For nearly 20 years, we have forecast that the moderate government in Cairo will be replaced by hardcore Islamists who will quickly align Egypt with the anti-Israel, radical Islamic administration in Tehran. Our editor in chief first said this in the November/December 1990 Trumpet, after the assassination of Egypt’s speaker of parliament: “Egypt’s President Mubarak could [also] be assassinated …. This could radically change Egyptian politics ….” Mr. Flurry went on to explore the prophecy in Daniel 11, which states that Egypt will be destroyed along with the king of the south by the king of the north. Why is Egypt also destroyed? he asked: “Is it because Egypt is somewhat allied with the king of the south …?”

By July 1993, Mr. Flurry’s prophecy for Egypt had grown even clearer: “Islamic extremism is gaining power at a frightening pace in Egypt. … This verse [Daniel 11:42] indicates Egypt will be allied with the king of the south. … I believe this prophecy in Daniel 11:42 indicates you are about to see a radical change in Egyptian politics!”

When we first wrote about Egypt, reality didn’t seem to back our forecast. During the early 1990s, Cairo and Tehran were barely on speaking terms. Egypt was the most moderate Arab state in the Mideast and widely considered to be America’s and Israel’s firmest ally in the region. Iran was an unfriendly Islamic theocracy. But as the years passed, events validated our forecast. During elections in December 2005, the Muslim Brotherhood won 88 seats in Egypt’s parliament, a six-fold increase over the previous election. Although that was fewer than a quarter of the parliament’s seats, the Brotherhood’s success exposed radical Islam’s growing influence and popularity.

Since then, radical Islam’s footprint has grown even more definitive. In the lead-up to Egypt’s 2008 election, Mubarak’s government became so concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood’s popularity that it brutally suppressed the Brotherhood’s potential candidates, resulting in the Muslim Brotherhood boycotting the election.

Increasingly, however, Mubarak is conceding to the Islamic shift in the country—and in the region.

Iran has begun to court Egypt, cautiously and steadily—yet successfully enough that it now appears Egypt’s “moderate” leadership is prepared to take the relationship to the next level. Watch for this relationship to grow stronger—setting the stage for a far stronger alliance likely to be cemeted under a more radical Egyptian government in the future.

The result is sure to produce some nightmares for Israel.