In February, I predicted that Egypt’s democratic revolution would lead to a rise in regional instability, particularly between Egypt and Israel. Late last month, I argued that Egypt’s transition to democracy was entering an extremely unstable phase, after thousands of protestors surrounded the Egyptian Embassy; the Egyptian government then announced that it would be recalling its ambassador from Tel Aviv (the decision was later reversed).
This past weekend, an Egyptian mob “scaled the walls of the Israeli Embassy to tear down its flag, broke into offices and tossed binders of documents into the streets.” It was not until protestors beat up an Israeli employee that the Egyptian military finally intervened. During the melee that lasted several hours, the mob used “hammers and broken poles to break through sections of the wall” surrounding the Israeli embassy. They then used “ropes attached to cars to pull away sections. By the end of the night, the wall was virtually demolished.”
What many would decry as a gross violation of a nation’s diplomatic immunity in any other country, passed almost without mention in the Western media. What is chilling about this example is that the Egyptian military let things go to the point that the mob gained physical access to a sovereign nation’s embassy.
So far, the Israelis have responded with restraint, and have supported the Egyptian military’s prerogative to secure Cairo. Yet, the Egyptian Street continues to boil with rage directed against its Israeli neighbors. Sooner or later, the Egyptian military is going to make a mistake, and the Arab Spring could again unravel into violence and chaos.
Things seem likely to continue to get worse before they get any better.