It probably annoys the hell out of the antisemites there (practically everybody), but Israel is a better friend to Egypt than the US. And maybe vice versa.
OK, nations don’t really have ‘friends’. It’s a philosophical category mistake, like saying that colors are things. What they have are interests, and Israel’s interests align with Egypt’s more closely than either nation’s interests do with those of the US.
Israel and Egypt’s military regime see Hamas as a dangerous destabilizing force which challenges both of them. Egypt has probably destroyed more of Hamas’ smuggling tunnels under its border with Gaza in the last few months than Israel ever did (to great international silence, by the way). The US defines Hamas as a terrorist organization, but forced Israel to end economic pressure on it after the Mavi Marmara affair.
Hamas, of course, is the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, closely aligned with the Brotherhood in Egypt. There are reasons to think that the Brotherhood is excessively influential with the Obama Administration.
Hamas’ biggest buddy in the Middle East has become Turkey, whose ruler Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has turned his country from an ally to an enemy of Israel. President Obama has emphasized his closeness to Erdoğan, the first national leader with whom he had a bilateral meeting after his election.
Hamas also gets weapons and support from its ideological enemy but pragmatic patron, Iran, Egypt’s historic rival — and Israel’s foe.
Speaking of Iran, we note that both Israel and Egypt find the idea of an Iranian bomb unacceptable. Despite statements to the contrary, so far the US is acting in a way that will provide Iran the time to develop nuclear weapons, and has prevented Israel from taking direct action.
The recent partial cutoff of US aid to Egypt, along with a humiliating lecture on the subject of “inclusive democracy,” has done a great deal of damage to relations between Egypt and the US. Although it is probably true that Egypt doesn’t need F16s or Abrams tanks, the US also cut off several hundred million dollars of cash aid to the regime. And while it could have shifted the cost of the ‘big weapons’ to food aid and other economic help, it did not do so.
Note also that continuing US aid to Egypt is part of the Camp David Accords that brought ‘peace’ between Israel and Egypt, and interrupting it weakens the treaty.
The worst part of the US action, in my opinion, is the way it is tone deaf to the realities of the Middle East. Does it expect the military leaders to become “inclusive” about the Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to kill them?
By the way, the argument that the US “had to cut aid” against Egypt due to a law that prohibits assistance after a coup is wrong, because senior US officials say that there has not been — and there is no need for — an official determination that the takeover was a “coup.”
And it won’t save our struggling government much money either, because as officials also point out, the government has obligations to defense contractors that will be met regardless of where the F16s and tanks end up.
The whole idea was to “send a message” to Egypt!
Well, the first part of the message is received, in Egypt and Israel, that the USA does not support its allies.
The rest will be coming shortly when the final chapter in the saga of the Iranian nuclear project is written.