Lee Smith thinks that part of what Hamas and its patrons in Damascus and Tehran have been working toward is the scuttling of the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, which remains one of the cornerstones of the American security architecture of the Middle East. Smith writes:
Another way to understand the Gaza breach is as part of Syria and Iran’s war against the regional order imposed by Washington. To be sure, Egypt is scared of Iran and even stands with Washington in supporting the Lebanese government against Hezbollah and against Iranian and Syrian meddling, but having to fight Tehran and Damascus openly on Egyptian soil is something else entirely, especially as Egypt, like many Sunni states around the region, suspects that the Bush administration has gone soft on Iran.
Think about it this way: What if Hamas ends up being able to stage attacks on Israel from the Sinai? This would be brilliant on Hamas’ part, because Israel would be put in the position of having to choose between acquiescing to the opening of a new front against it, or striking back at Hamas on Egyptian soil.
Israel’s dilemma would only be matched by Mubarak’s: allow Hamas, as Lee puts it, to effect the Lebanonization of the Sinai by extending its terror mini-state there, or move in and crush the Hamas presence and be seen by the Arab world, and especially by his own people, killing brother Arabs on behalf of the Jews. A more serious betrayal hardly exists in the Middle East.
These calculations surely have a lot to do with the recent firming up of Egypt’s dedication to ensuring that another breach does not happen.