With the announcement from Hilary Clinton and Egypt’s Foreign Ministry of a ceasefire just now, it’s starting to look like the conflict in the Gaza Strip could finally be dying down.While this is probably good news for all sides, there’s one clear winner of the ceasefire: Egyptian President Muhammed Morsi.
Morsi’s rise to power this summer as Egypt’s first post-Mubarak president has been viewed with scepticism by many, who have never been quite sure what to make of the Islamist group that supported him — the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the oldest Islamist groups in the world, with strong ties to Hamas and who have seen elements of their philosophy adopted by Al Qaeda.
In the US this led to a number of conspiracy theories about the group, and a foreign observers have been carefully watching Morsi’s remarks about Israel since he came to office.
While Morsi does appear to be taking a harder position than Mubarak did on Israel, he has also found himself in a powerful position as peacemaker — able to talk to both sides, unlike Clinton, who cannot talk to Hamas as they are officially labelled a terrorist organisation.
With news of the ceasefire, Morsi appears to have brought Hamas to the negotiating table, and at the same time fully restored US support for Egypt — Obama even gave him a phone-call today thanking him for his “efforts to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and for his personal leadership in negotiating a ceasefire proposal.”
There is a catch, of course, and that is how Morsi’s actions are viewed at home. As negotiations were taking place this week, demonstrations broke out in Cairo to mark the one-year anniversary of a five-day clash in Cairo’s Mohamed Mahmoud Street that saw more than 40 people killed. Even within the Muslim Brotherhood, there seems to be no real consensus on exactly how to deal with Israel.
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