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January 28th
10:03 AM

Egypt as ‘Physician with One Patient’

Charley Bravo - 1/28/11

A cable newly released by Wikileaks, 10DOHA71, hightlights some fascinating commentary by the Prime Minster of Qatar in discussions with Senator John Kerry. Regarding the Palestinian issue, Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani notes that Hamas has a “greater sense of urgency in reconcilling with Fatah than does the broker of the talks”.  His point here is that Egypt is in some way impeding progress while maintaining its status in the process.  At the very least, the Prime Minister believes that Hamas wants to unite with Fatah for the sake of rebuilding Gaza but that Egypt is not trusted as a broker.

According to HBJ, Egypt — the broker — has a vested interest in dragging out the talks for as long as possible. Egypt ‘has no end game; serving as broker of the talks is Egypt’s only business interest with the U.S.’  HBJ likened the situation to a physician who has only one patient to treat in the hospital.  If that is your only business, “the physician is going to keep the patient alive but in the hospital for as long as possible.” 

In what appears to be a stunning offer, up against the suggestion that Aljazeera was the source of Egypt’s domestic problems, the Prime Minster recounts telling Mubarak that Qatar would “stop Aljazeera for year” if he could deliver on the diplomatic front.  If that was a bluff, Mubarak did not call it, but rather “said nothing in response”.

Now we are at a stage, said HBJ, where Egypt does not want Arab League involvement in brokering a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinians unless the talks bog down.

The nature of this peculiar problem with the 2nd largest recipient of US foreign aid was, according to the Prime Minster, even understood by during the Clinton Administration.   Regarding internal dissent in Egypt and the regime’s tactics, he claims the Egyptian “people blame America …mostly because of Mubarak and is his close ties”.