The frequently-reviled-but-ever- fascinating Debkafile made one of its most interesting posts yet on Tuesday, revealing that a strange alliance between Mubarak (Egypt), King Abdullah (Jordan), Abu Mazen (Palestinian Authority) and Arik Sharon (Israel) was formed early this week at the Middle East summit at Sharm al-Sheik. Who knows, as ever with this website, to the degree this is true, but it certainly has interesting implications:
1. A new Middle East Club of Four came into being. With a good measure of audacity and inventiveness, this bloc could dictate the next steps towards lifting the Israel-Palestinian dispute out of its stalemate – or even play a role in other conflicts, such as Lebanon and Iraq. Mubarak hinted as much in his closing speech when he urged Israel to embrace Syria and Lebanon in its peace diplomacy. This call was taken as a token response to a request from Syrian president Bashar Assad to raise the Syrian issue at the summit. In fact, the Egyptian ruler was already beginning to weave other regional issues in with the conflict on the table.
2. The Middle East Club of Four will need to pace itself against that of the absent nations – Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, all the Gulf emirates and even East Africa. Interestingly, by coming together alone, the four leaders cut themselves off from big power or even regional intervention. If the group endures long enough, it might even solidify into a distinct Egyptian-Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian military-intelligence pact. A candidate for fifth member might be Iraq, which might find useful alternative export routes for its oil through Jordan’s Red Sea port of Aqaba and Israel’s Mediterranean ports of Haifa or Ashkelon.
I’m sure you’ll want to read it all. The Debka post concludes (with more to come on the suject):
The importance of the Sharm Four as the core of a new alliance also explains why Washington appointed an officer as senior as Lt. General William E. (Kip) Ward, deputy chief of US ground forces in Europe, as security coordinator between the United States, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians.