Former Ambassador: Egypt is in Anarchy

Former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Zvi Mazel: What happened in the embassy is very serious. The military is afraid of the street.

Elad Benari ,

Protesters in Cairo knock down wall around Is
Protesters in Cairo knock down wall around Is
Israel News photo: YouTube screenshot

Zvi Mazel, who served as Israel's ambassador to Cairo between 1996 and 2001, expressed his concerns on Sunday over the events that took place in the Israeli Embassy in Cairo on Friday night.

An angry Egyptian mob tore down the security wall that had been built around the embassy, and then proceeded to enter the embassy, where they nearly broke into a room where six Israeli security men were holed up.

Egyptian commandos eventually rescued the guards who disguised themselves in keffiyas, Arab head gear, and in Muslim clothes. The guards, along with the Israeli Ambassador to Egypt and other embassy staff, were then flown to Tel Aviv.

Mazel told Arutz Sheva on Sunday that while there have been civilian demonstrations against the Israeli embassy in Egypt in the past, they had never gotten as bad as it got on Friday.

He said that previously, demonstrators who tried to approach the embassy were blocked by the Egyptian security forces near the University of Cairo, which is located about 250 meters from the Israeli Embassy. He added that in the past, certainly no one would have let the protesters come near the embassy wall.

Mazel emphasized that international conventions require the regime to stop all demonstrations near a foreign embassy and that Egyptian authorities should have followed up on their required duties.

"This was cowardly behavior on behalf of the Egyptian authorities," Mazel said, stressing that the new Egyptian government believes it is important to maintain the peace treaty with Israel but at the same time the military forces controlling the country "fear the street," as he put it.

"From the moment the army seized power they've been weak and have let the street dictate their conduct," Mazel added. "It's very serious. These generals do not know how to run a state."

He added that "Egypt is in a state of anarchy," and said that there is so much violence on the streets of Egypt that Egyptian militias have purchased weapons to protect their neighborhoods. He noted that looting of stores is prevalent in all the large cities and no one is even trying to control the anarchy.

In light of this reality, Mazel said he recommends that the Israeli government to continue to monitor events in Egypt, yet "intervene as little as possible", while "requiring Egypt to behave properly, to keep the peace, and remove radical forces."

He added that the additional Egyptian forces that Israel recently allowed into the Sinai Peninsula should be enough to hunt down the terrorist forces there, and said there is no need to renegotiate the peace agreement over the same exception that allowed the entry of these forces.

He noted, however, that despite the current anarchy "all is not lost," since the Egyptian government is well aware that it is in its interest to keep the peace with Israel so that it is able to implement the planned economic and social reforms.

"Opening a front against Israel will force Egypt to transfer all the money to the army and from that moment there will be no reforms," said Mazel. "Although the Egyptian government is weak and not able to take control, there are still clever people there who know they have no other option but to maintain the peace with Israel."

As for the return of the Israeli Ambassador to Egypt, something which Israel has stated it plans to work towards, Mazel said the ambassador should return to Cairo as quickly as possible, as this would project to the Egyptians that keeping ties with Israel normalized is especially important at the present time.