Hassan Nasrallah has always been careful with his criticisms of the “moderate” Arab regimes despite the obvious animosity. He recently broke with this diplomatic hypocrisy, indirectly accusing Egypt of complicity with the Israeli attack on Gaza. This elicited criticism from Samir Geagea and other Lebanese politicians who find this an inappropriate time to drive a wedge between Arabs.
But the wedge has been driven a long time ago and Nasrallah did nothing more than place his finger on a popular pulse. The attacks on Egyptian embassies across the Arab world did not need the instigation of Nasrallah. Neither did the demonstration led by an Egyptian parliamentarian. The Egyptian state, not knowing how to deal with the situation, is conducting a campaign against the Secretary General of Hizballah through various media outlets. The spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry even held Nasrallah repsonsible for the attacks on the Egyptian embassy in Yemen. As Abu al-Ghait’s vicious attack on Nasrallah makes clear, however, the effusive praise of the patriotism of the Egyptian army and people are meant more for domestic consumption than for Nasrallah himself.
Saudi Arabia too is scrambling. Faced with demands for demonstration permits from all quarters, it is responding the way it responds best: repression. The Saudi authorities also announced that they will forbid any demonstrations against Israel’s war on Gaza.
The Israeli atrocities in Gaza are plain for all to see, but the complicity of the moderates, primarily Egypt, is a sinister thread that runs through it all. The coup de grâce of this complicity came today when Egypt declared it would open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on the condition that it be placed under the forces of Mahmoud Abbas. As Ibrahim al-Amin points out, this, along with extending Abbas’s term and dissolving the Hamas government, were the conditions Egypt was trying to impose on Hamas before Israel launched its attack. At best, Egypt’s condition for opening Rafah is an attempt at procrastination. At worst, it is in line with Israel’s declared aim of changing the rules of the game in Gaza.
Indignation, in the mean time, is coming from totally different quarters. Erdoğan is very upset with Olmert and the Turkish press is not mincing its words on Israel.