Seven takeaways from the Gaza ceasefire

Daniel Levy lists his takeaways: 1) And the winner… is President Morsi

That Egypt’s new president has emerged from this episode strengthened both internally and externally appears to be something of a consensus. Mohammed Morsi is being widely praised for having struck the right balance between a pragmatism that enabled him to deliver the goods on a ceasefire and a principled stand in support of the Palestinians, which guaranteed that he could not be cast as Mubarak II. Unsurprisingly, there is domestic criticism of Morsi’s role suggesting both that Morsi was back to playing Egypt’s old role as America’s policeman and/or that he was insufficiently focused on Egypt’s needs at home. Neither critique, though, is likely to gain much traction. If anything, the timing of the criticism also worked rather well for Morsi, enabling him to claim a win against the backdrop of a difficult domestic climate with the tragic train crash in southern Egypt (which otherwise would have dominated the news and led to severe criticism of the government), with revolutionaries and police clashing in Cairo, and with a potential constitutional crisis still in the offing (which just deepened today).

Morsi emerges from his mediating role with increased credit in the bank, both metaphorically — the international community relied on Morsi’s team to broker the truce — and literally, with the IMF approving a $4.8 billion loan to Egypt, coincidentally on the same day of this diplomatic achievement (and on terms which would make many a European state green with envy). Much has been made of the close Egyptian-U.S. coordination throughout the crisis and especially of the six phone calls held between the Egyptian and American presidents during the past week. Morsi was able to manage the U.S. relationship, the Hamas relationship and to have his security officials broker an arrangement with Israeli counterparts while at the same time expressing unequivocal and distinctly un-Mubarak support for the Palestinian cause, and opposition to Israeli policies, recalling his ambassador from Israel and dispatching his Prime Minister to appear with Gazan Prime Minster Haniyeh in a show of solidarity with a Gaza from where rockets were being launched at Israel.

All of which does not add up to a trouble-free future for Morsi’s Egypt in the Israel-Palestine arena. Egypt now has a degree of responsibility for preventing violence between two actors over which its control is very, very limited (Hamas and Israel). It also still has the headache of security in the Sinai to address. But Morsi is likely to remind his Western friends that if they are unable to use a period of quiet to deliver broader progress on Israeli de-occupation, then he cannot be held fully responsible for the consequences later on. [Continue reading…]

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