Morsi Spends Political Capital to Stop Strikes or Blockade

Chicago ~ Tomorrow kicks off the Annual Conference on Palestine in the US hosted by American Muslims for Palestine at the Oak Brook Hills Marriott.  Given the the conference, and the Israeli strikes on Gaza, please consider today’s posting as a piece written in frustration with bureaucratic processes at all levels.

As PITAPOLICY founder, Mehrunisa Qayyum, is waiting for her posting on Huffington Post, PITAPOLICY wanted to share this thought experiment with #Pitapals.  Who will win this round of poker…or will a real deal to end the blockade on Gaza surface?  Rather than engage in a Twitter war that does nothing to service civilians under siege by the Israeli Defense Forces’ airstrikes, let us consider the BDS Movement and how we can protest peacefully. 

Also to any fans and followers in the US: PITAPOLICY wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving…and requests that you pray for our #Pitapals that have not been as fortunate in Syria, Gaza, and the rest of the world…

How Many Rounds in this Poker Game?

By: Mehrunisa Qayyum

In a poker game, the winner is usually not the one that puts the most on the table.  Typically, putting more cash on the table is a bluff tactic.  The winner is the one that outwits and outbanks her opponent.  A week ago, a new poker game erupted with Gaza versus Israel.  Three players have just entered: Egypt, Turkey, and Qatar.

Another more familiar player, the US, is hovering because it does not officially recognize the legitimacy of the Gaza player–even though Gazans legitimately voted in Hamas, the political Islamists party to represent them through fair elections.  But the US has bankrolled a few of the players (Israel, Egypt, and Gaza), and remembers how an earlier round, played in 2008-2009, left 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.  What also followed was a a fat human rights report listing the war crimes racked up by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).  its is the one that manages to hide her best combination of cards with enough the bank

Fold to Play Another Day
Which country will finish spending all of its political capital first?  And once spent, will it really be a win if there’s a rematch in another two years? Depending on who spends all of its political capital first, determines which other player benefits later.  It is easy to tacitly support strong measures when you know that you outgun.  According to an Israeli paper’s poll: 84 percent of Israelis support the missile attacks that began last Wednesday.

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, knows Israel outguns Gaza, and has much political capital to launch a ground campaign in Gaza.  However, Hamas has allegedly increased its weapons capability “fourfold” between 2006 to 2011.  Thus, it is likely that Netanyahu will lose Israeli soldiers in a ground operation to Gaza defenses.  No polls have been taken yet to indicate what the magic number would be for IDF casualties that would cost Netanyahu the popular vote in the upcoming election.

Maybe it is not wise for Netanyahu to expend all his political capital to launch a ground offensive.  Rather, by appearing as “conciliatory” in a peace agreement via Egypt might earn more Netanyahu more diplomatic appeal both at home, and abroad.  Israel wins an opportunity to pigeonhole Hamas even more as “terrorist oriented” if they agree to a ceasefire brokered by Egypt’s President, Mohamed Morsi, who comes from the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)–or as critics of the Egypt’s MB view them as “Islamists in power” but without the weapons of Hamas.

In this poker round, Hamas has as much political capital to “spend” as long as IDF continue to launch missiles with Gaza’s civilians getting caught in the crossfire.  Nonetheless, it is not accurate to conclude that Hamas has infinite political capital for a future round: the people of Gaza have faced a five-year blockade of goods and services.  International food aid addresses 44 percent of Gaza refugees’ food needs, according to the United Nations Relief Works Agency.  As an earlier Huffington Post piece highlighted: the blockade has produced literally an “underground economy” that makes up two-thirds of Gaza’s consumer needs.  Moreover, the blockade has disrupted Gaza’s leading industry as well as

The blockade is what poker game is all about, and that is why Egypt has the added incentive to expend political capital in this round, and not Turkey, the GCC, or the League of Arab States–even the US.  Before the US gets dealt in the game, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will privately meet with Netanyahu Tuesday night.  But the US has no leverage on Hamas since the US deems Hamas as a terrorist entity.

Morsey’s political capital is nothing to belittle.  Although he won 51.7 percent of the popular vote, that’s 51.7 percent of over 80 million people–that is still more than the number of people who voted for Netanyahu, Hamas, and its neighbors combined.  If Morsi succeeds in brokering a ceasefire, he goes beyond diplomatic achievement and tackles an internal Egyptian issue.  In a nutshell, Morsi’s conciliatory measures re-engage Israel commercially, which signals that it is less politically risky to for Israel to re-invest in Egypt.  thereby signals Europeans to invest in Egypt.  Morsi just flashes three ‘Aces’. Done.  It does not matter what cards the US decides to present.

On a symbolic level, Morsi symbolically uplifts other Islamist parties in power–like Tunisia’s Ennahda Party.  Though, Egypt, not the Muslim Brotherhood, will have reasserted its position as a post-revolutionary voice, which is not something that Qatar nor other Gulf nations can boast about when the need for a regional arbitrator reemerges.  We would not have to read the faces in that poker game because none of the GGC countries have political capital to expend.

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