More Iraq Fallout
To do this, Cairo first needs to warm up, at least rhetorically, its cold peace with the Jewish state, the analysts say. "It is difficult to play the mediator if you do not have relations with both sides of the equation," says Hala Mustafa, an analyst at the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo....She predicts Maher will return to Tel Aviv. With the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime, "we are seeing a kind of defeat of the old extremist ideologies and of pan-Arab ideas that dominated Arab political thought for a long time," she says. "Maher's visit shows Egypt is willing to deal with any party in Israel, including Ariel Sharon."
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Not that this will stop the barrage of shoes from the peaceloving Palestinians. However, a swift dose of realism seems to be arriving on the heels of the Coalition troops. Egypt is talking to Israel, Saudi has acknowledged that it may have a tiny terrorism problem, Pakistan is wondering if nuclear weapons and Islamic fundamentalism are such a good mix, Iran is agreeing to snap inspections of its nuclear program.
The neocon argument has always been, "never change a winning game, always change a losing one". The middle east and the Islamic world have been on a losing streak since the 13th century and shaking up the game could not hurt. In fact it seems to have helped. There are still players who are stuck in the old mindset - the Troll of RamallahTM
is not likely to change merely because the chief patron of homicide bombers has been dragged out of his hole. But people like Assad in Syria have to make a choice: stick with the old, failing, game or learn new tricks. And they have to make the choice fast because as Iraq democratizes, a new message is going to blow through the middle east - confrontation and intransigence don't work. The Americans don't give up. Terrorism doesn't work. The Americans don't give up. The only thing which works is co-operation and a reasonable amount of good will. After all, if Gadaffi can be redeemed there is hope for virtually every Arab dictator.
The clearest message is "don't support or even seem to support terrorism"; but wrapped inside that message is the stinger - inciting terrorism, murdering your own people, creating WMDs are all equally likely to attract Washington's attention. Iraq, as the neocons suspected, has been more than sufficient to capture the Arab's attention and create the conditions for real change in the Islamic world.