Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Israeli spies target Egypt

Abdel Bari Atwan

Ilan Grapel, 28, a U.S.  Mossad agent arrested by
Egyptian authorities.
The Egyptian revolution launched from Tahrir Square in Cairo surprised the world not only with its victory and the efforts and patience of the youth, but also in the changes it brought to the political landscape of Egypt. It has altered the balance of power and allies in the Arab world and, more importantly, is starting to reshape the relationship with Israel.

Hence, it would be naive not to expect many parties to conspire against the revolution to take it off track. Top of the list of suspects would be Israel alongside those Arab regimes which oppose democratic change and wish to see Egypt remain subject to US domination.

It was not surprising, therefore, to hear that an Israeli has been arrested and accused of spying by the Egyptian authorities. Ilan Chaim Grapel is, it is claimed, an officer in Israel's Mossad intelligence agency and he has been charged with trying to recruit young Egyptians to carry out sabotage operations and sow the seeds of sectarian strife. Spending time in Tahrir Square under a number of aliases, Grapel is accused of inciting Egyptian Muslims to attack Coptic Churches and escalate clashes between the faith groups. All, it is alleged, with the intention of destabilising Egypt and destroying the nascent national unity of purpose.

Revolutionary Egypt is a target because it is no longer humiliated before the Israeli occupier, doing America's bidding or conspiring to maintain the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Nor is it still selling natural gas to Israel at below the price it sells it to Egyptian citizens. It is natural, therefore, for the Israelis to send their spies to support a counter-revolution which wants to turn the clock back to the Egypt of corruption, repression and looting of public money.

It is no coincidence that the churches of Egypt were the target of Israeli schemes shortly before the outbreak of the revolution, when we witnessed the massacre of The Saints Church in Alexandria on New Year's Eve, for example. The man accused of ordering that attack, allegedly at Israel's instigation, is now behind bars; Major General Habib al-Adli is the former Interior Minister. Ilan Chaim Grapel frequented places of worship, including those which have seen deadly sectarianism.

Israeli fingers have long been interfering in the internal affairs of Egypt, as they have in Iraq, Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories, and churches have always been one of their targets in order to incite Christians against their Muslim brothers and "prove" that Muslim-Christian coexistence is impossible. The Israel Lobby plays the same game against Muslim minorities in the West, pinning the charge of terrorism against them and turning Western societies against them as a threat to security. Accusations that Islam and democracy are incompatible have also been made by the Lobby.

Egypt's revolution turned Israel's strategic calculations upside down after forty years of confidence in the subservience of the Arab regimes which abandoned their policies of resistance in exchange for a fake march towards peace. We have heard Israeli strategists talking about changes to doctrine and priorities, with the Israeli military machine again putting Egypt at the top of the list of enemies.

The transformation of Egypt from an Israeli lackey under deposed President Mubarak to an independent state putting its own interests first, has placed Israel in an embarrassing situation. It is interesting to note that this Egyptian transition will cost Israel about $20 billion, at least, to develop new defences on its southern front.

Perhaps the most striking change in Israel's strategy towards Egypt is the intensification of its espionage operations to undermine Egyptian security from inside. Just one year ago, Egyptian counter-espionage officers discovered a spy network led by a young Egyptian who had been recruited by Mossad while studying in China. His confession of spying on Egyptian installations, most notably the communications network, and the telephones of senior officers, led to the dismantling of three Mossad cells in Lebanon and Syria.

The latest discovery of an Israeli spy in Egypt reveals the vigilance of the Egyptian security services at a time when they are busy responding to the counter-revolution and the members of the ousted regime. However, it also raises the question of how many more Israeli spies are in place across Egypt; this should encourage Egyptians of all classes and creeds to be prudent and have caution as their watchword.

Israel has never truly honoured peace treaties or had respect for its allies. Who can forget that the Zionist state sent thirty agents from Mossad to assassinate Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai, with the killers using forged British, French, German, Canadian and Irish passports? If the Israelis do not respect their main allies and supporters, is it possible for them to respect peace treaties with Arab countries?

It is incumbent upon us to alert the world that the Israelis are playing a major role in the counter-revolution in Egypt, focusing on national security and inciting the West against the new regime. This includes trying to cause a rift between the youth of the revolution and the Supreme Council for the armed forces. Efforts in this regard have been intensified after the success of Egypt's role in achieving Palestinian reconciliation and breaking the unjust siege on the people of Gaza by opening the Rafah crossing permanently, as well as opposition to any new Israeli attack on the Strip.

Revolutionary Egypt will resist such conspiracies and we have no doubt that the awareness of its people, especially the youth, represents the insurance policy to maintain the revolution and prevent any diversion or counter-revolution.

What the Israelis, Americans and some Arab countries hostile to democratic change do not understand is that Egypt has returned to its people first and to the Arabs and Muslims second, and that there is no going back. Egypt and its people can only go onwards and upwards. The victory of the revolution in Egypt remains a victory for the Arab spring, even if progress has slowed somewhat.

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