WOULD-BE rulers of the world have always coveted Egypt, and for good reason. Rich in resources and in a choice position, it is also easily controlled, with no forests or mountains for rebels to lurk in. The Assyrians, Persians, Greeks and Romans all grabbed it. So did Muslim Arabs, Ottoman Turks, Napoleon’s France and finally Britain. The Crusaders, Tamerlane and Hitler all tried and failed to take it. The cold-war superpowers vied for influence too; Egypt flirted with both, but America bid higher and won.

自古以来想要征服世界的霸主们必觊觎埃及,这自然有其道理。埃及位于上帝的特选之地,资源与物产丰富;由于没有高山密林供反叛者藏匿,因而易于统治与管理。亚述、波斯、希腊和罗马人都曾占有过这块土地。阿拉伯穆斯林、奥斯曼土耳其和拿破仑的法国,最后是大英帝国也先后做过这片土地的主宰。十字军、帖木儿和希特勒虽然也曾试图夺取埃及,但最终无法如愿以偿。冷战时期的超级大国为扩大在这个地区的影响而进行了激烈的竞争,而埃及则脚踏两只船,待价而沽。美国人出价更高并最终赢得了这场影响力之争。

Egypt became America’s Arab poodle, a role that is no less uncomfortable under Barack Obama than it was under George Bush. Mr Mubarak’s policy of helping Israel to punish Hamas by keeping Gaza shut in smells rotten to most of his people, and particularly to the many who sympathise with the Muslim Brotherhood, the resilient Egyptian wellspring of modern Islamism. Egyptians are only intermittently interested in foreign affairs, and many remain grateful that Mr Mubarak, unlike his predecessors, has shunned risk. Yet the feeling that Egypt has lost its rightful place as a country with influence, that it has fallen from grace, is widespread.

埃及成了美国在阿拉伯世界的卷毛狮子狗,这个角色在奥巴马上台后并没有比乔治•布什当总统时好过到那里。穆巴拉克通过封闭加沙来帮助以色列惩罚哈马斯的政策令大多数埃及人闻起来都感到有股腐烂的气味(很臭),特别是穆斯林兄弟会的众多同情者对这项政策更加反感。这个组织是死灰复燃的埃及现代伊斯兰运动的源头。埃及人一般对外国的事情不感兴趣,许多人对穆巴拉克心怀感激,因为他一反前任的做法,不冒险行事。然而埃及人普遍的看法是,埃及的国际地位下降了,它在地区事务中的影响力也下降了。

America paid handsomely for its prize, pouring in some $60 billion of economic and military aid over the years, though the economic part of that is now shrinking. Tens of billions more have flowed from its allies and from the international agencies that America has long dominated. The aid has tided Egypt over hard times and kept its army strong, albeit beholden to America for arms and spare parts. For the West it has brought relative quiet in the Middle East, following the four major Arab-Israeli wars of 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973.

美国人对埃及的这种表现给与了慷慨的奖励,这些年来共向埃及倾注了600亿美元的经济和军事援助,只不过目前的经援有点缩水。除此之外,其它盟国和美国长期把持的国际机构也向埃及提供了数百亿美元的援助。这些援助使埃及度过了困难时期,并建立了强大的国防。当然其军队的武器装备和零配件要仰赖于美国了。对西方国家而言,在经历了1948、1956、1967年和1973年的四场阿-以大战之后,终于迎来了中东地区相对平静的局面。

ts strategic situation, its cultural influence and a population double that of any other Arab country, Egypt has for three decades now been the linchpin of a precarious but enduring regional Pax Americana. Access to Egyptian airspace and to the Suez Canal has helped America project its power (albeit not always wisely) to such arenas as Iraq and the Persian Gulf. The treaty Egypt signed at Camp David in 1979 made it harder for Israel’s smaller Arab neighbours to go to war, encouraging Jordan to conclude its own peace deal and Palestinians to try to do so. It relieved the Israelis of existential fears for a generation, until Iran’s recent emergence as a potential nuclear rival. It is fair to say that Egypt’s dogged support for regional peacemaking has been crucial to sustaining a modicum of civility in the Middle East, despite backsliding by nearly everyone else.

埃及地理位置的战略重要性、文化影响力及人口数量与任何其它阿拉伯国家相比都有压倒性的优势,迄今为止的三十年来,埃及已经成为在该地区维系一个危机四伏而又长存不灭的美式和平的关键。能够自由出入埃及领空和苏伊士运河对美国向伊拉克和波斯湾这样一些地区投送军事力量帮了大忙。(当然这些使用武力的行动并非全都是明智之举。)埃及于1979年签署的戴维营协议使以色列相对弱小的阿拉伯邻国难以再向其开战,促使约旦与以色列达成了和平,使巴勒斯坦人也尝试着循路而行。直到伊朗最近以一个以以色列为敌的潜在核国家的面目出现之前,与埃及达成的和平使整整一代以色列人不再为能否生存下去而寝食不安。公平地说,尽管各方的态度几乎都在倒退,但没有撕破脸皮而大打出手与埃及对地区和平的不懈努力是分不开的。

Egypt still collects rents for its moderating role. These come in both tangible and intangible forms; in Western aid and preferential trading terms, in diplomatic prestige, in goodwill that boosts tourism and investment, and in a certain amount of indulgence for the Mubarak government’s repression at home.

埃及作为缓冲国的角色还能够不断地获取红利。红利以有形利益与无形利益这两种形式呈现,包括来自西方的资金援助和优惠的贸易条件,由于外交声望和信誉的提高而促进了旅游业发展和吸引了投资的涌入,并在一定程度上使西方各国对穆巴拉克政权在国内的镇压行动充耳不闻。

Whenever things go wrong in the Middle East, Western leaders flock to Egypt to show their concern. Egypt in turn obliges by convening summits and conferences, and leaning on its Arab neighbours to soften their tone. It was not by chance that Barack Obama chose Cairo as his platform for reaching out to the Muslim world with a speech that sought to repair America’s battered image.

每当中东地区出现麻烦,西方各国的领导人就争相赶往埃及以示关切。埃及则以召集高峰会议与协商会议的方式作为回报,威逼其阿拉伯邻国软化他们的语调。奥巴马总统选择开罗作为他发表向伊斯兰世界示好的讲话地点绝非偶然,这次讲话是美国寻求改善在穆斯林心目中不佳形象的一次行动。

Twenty-nine years of Hosni Mubarak’s stolid, unimaginative rule have brought his country its longest stretch of peace for a century. Yet as Egyptians often lament, the rise of economic power in the Gulf, and of politically ambitious regional heavyweights such as Turkey and Iran, have rendered Egypt less and less able to influence events. It has not helped that American pursuit of policies viscerally opposed by Arab populations, particularly regarding Israel and Iraq, has polarised the region, exposing America’s increasingly lonely best Arab friend to charges of colluding with the Great Satan. The aggressiveness of Egypt’s ostensible peace partner, Israel, has helped even less.

胡斯尼•穆巴拉克在埃及29年不事声张的刻板统治,给他的国家带来了一个世纪内最长的一段和平时期。然而,伴随着海湾地区经济强国的崛起和土耳其和伊朗这样雄心勃勃的地区大国的政治影响力日增,埃及人经常叹息自己国家对本地区事态的影响力愈来愈小。美国追求的政策受到众多的阿拉伯人发自内心地反对,而埃及是泥菩萨过河,对此爱么能助。特别是美国对以色列和伊拉克的政策已经引起了该地区政治上的两极分化,使与美国最铁的阿拉伯哥们(埃及)日显孤独,被指责为与大恶魔(美国)穿一条裤子。而埃及表面上的和平伙伴以色列的好斗政策则更是在帮倒忙。

Trouble with the neighbours
邻里纠纷

People tend to forget that Camp David dealt not just with Israeli-Egyptian relations but with other issues too. At Egypt’s insistence the 1979 treaty included a framework for regional peace, based on Israel’s withdrawal from the territories it occupied in 1967 to make room for an autonomous Palestinian government. Israel ignored those clauses and invaded Lebanon in 1982, permanently souring relations with Egypt and seemingly vindicating bitter Arab criticism of Egypt’s separate peace.

人们往往忘记,戴维营协议不仅涉及以色列与埃及的关系,而且也包含其它内容。在埃及的坚持下,1979年签署的这项条约也包括了地区和平的架构,其基础就是以色列从它1967年占领的土地上撤出,在这片土地上建立一个自治的巴勒斯坦政府。以色列无视这些条款,在1982年入侵了黎巴嫩,与埃及间的关系也持续恶化,似乎为阿拉伯人对埃及独自与以色列达成和平的强烈批评提供了最好的佐证。

Still, Egypt eventually coaxed the Palestine Liberation Organisation to recognise Israel, and America prodded the Israelis to negotiate on terms similar to ones they had previously sniffed at. This joint effort underpinned the hopeful peacemaking of the 1990s, subsequently wrecked by Israeli settlement and paranoia, Palestinian disunity and terrorism, and American timidity and myopia.

尽管如此,埃及最终还是哄着巴勒斯坦解放组织承认了以色列,而美国也促使以色列与巴解组织进行了谈判,而谈的都是些与他们之前嗤之以鼻的要价相似的内容。这种双管齐下的努力为上世纪90年代充满希望的和平谈判奠定了基调,随后和平进程毁于以色列的定居点政策和疑神疑鬼的心态,毁于巴勒斯坦的分裂和恐怖主义,毁于美国短视的政策与行动上的谨小慎微。

Since the collapse of Israeli-Palestinian talks ten years ago things have got relentlessly worse. The second Palestinian intifada and Israel’s crushing response; Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005; the Islamist Hamas party’s election victory there in 2006; its ousting of the Palestinian Authority in 2007; Israel’s rightward drift and its brutal onslaught on Gaza in 2009; all have put Egypt in a bind. Mr Mubarak’s government has found itself caught between his people’s sympathy for Palestinian and wider Muslim causes and its own stubborn commitment to peace and alignment with the West.

自从以巴谈判在十年前破裂后局面已经无情地恶化了。此后爆发了第二次巴勒斯坦人起义和以色列的镇压行动;以色列在2005年从加沙地带单方面撤出;信奉伊斯兰教的哈马斯在2006年加沙的大选中获胜;2007年哈马斯将巴勒斯坦权力机构赶出加沙;以色列右转,并于2009年对加沙发动了野蛮的攻击。所有这一切都使埃及陷入困境之中。埃及人对巴勒斯坦兄弟普遍持同情的态度而且具有更广泛意义上的穆斯林理念,而埃及却负有难以推却的维护和平与推动和平进程的责任,同时它还采取了与西方结盟的政策,穆巴拉克政府发现自己被夹在了两者之间,进退维谷。

Over the past three years Egypt has struggled in vain just to broker a workable agreement between the main Palestinian factions, the secular Fatah party, which controls the West Bank and has long been close to Cairo, and Hamas, which began as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and so is regarded with distaste by Egyptian officialdom.

过去的三年,埃及徒劳地努力在巴勒斯坦的主要派别之间进行斡旋,以期能够达成一项可行的协议。世俗的法塔赫控制着约旦河西岸,它与埃及政府保持着长期的密切关系,而哈马斯起始于穆斯林兄弟会的一个分支,一向为埃及官员们所厌恶。

Hamas’s resistance to Egyptian blandishments is understandable. In support of Western policy aimed at bolstering Fatah and at forcing Hamas to recognise Israel and renounce violence, Egypt has joined with Israel to enforce its blockade on Gaza. Not only has it tightly restricted the flow of people across its border; it has insisted that nearly all goods traffic pass through Israeli-controlled crossings. It has gone along with a costly American-funded scheme to sink a steel barrier into the ground along its Gaza border in order to block the tunnels from Egypt that have become Gaza’s lifeline.

哈马斯对埃及甜言蜜语的哄劝抱有抵触情绪是可以理解的。西方的计划是支持法塔赫,迫使哈马斯承认以色列和宣布放弃暴力对抗行动,埃及为支持西方的这项政策而加入到以色列对加沙的封锁行动中。它不仅严格限制跨其边界的人员流动,而且还坚持让几乎所有的货物运输都通过以色列控制的口岸来进行。它还施行了一项由美国资助的耗资巨大的工程,沿埃及与加沙的边境向地面打入一道钢铁屏障,从埃及一侧封堵住无数的地下通道,这些通道是加沙赖以存活的生命线。

As seen from Cairo, collusion over squeezing Hamas has been the least awful of a set of bad choices. It appeases Israel’s powerful friends in America’s Congress, who have threatened to cut aid if Egypt does not help squash what they regard as the terrorist faction ruling Gaza. The siege also puts pressure on Hamas to become reconciled with Fatah and return to the umbrella of the Palestinian Authority. Egypt wants not only to dilute Islamist influence and boost chances for a negotiated peace; it also seeks to thwart what many in Cairo suspect is Israel’s real aim. What the Israelis intend, mutter Egyptian diplomats, is to make the territorial split between the two rump parts of the putative Palestinian state permanent, rendering it inoperable, and to dump crowded Gaza, with its 1.6m angry, impoverished residents and Islamist rulers, into Egypt’s lap.

在埃及政府看来,共谋打压哈马斯是一种两害相权取其轻的选择。这种行动安抚了美国国会内以色列强大的盟友,他们曾发出威胁,如果埃及不帮助制服他们认为是控制了加沙的一伙恐怖份子,就削减对埃及的援助。对加沙的围困也是在对哈马斯施压,使其与法塔赫和解,并重返巴勒斯坦权力机构的保护伞下。埃及希望不仅能够削弱伊斯兰极端主义者的势力,增加和谈成功的机会,而且还试图挫败以色列的真正目的。(许多埃及人都对以色列持怀疑态度,认为它有这样一个不可告人的目的。)埃及的外交官们小声抱怨道,以色列的真正目的就是使巴勒斯坦的领土在一般认定的两个主要政权间保持永久的分裂状态,使之机能瘫痪,将拥挤着160万既贫困又愤怒的居民的加沙地带和控制这片地区的伊斯兰极端主义者一道推给埃及。

Eyeless in Gaza  更多信息请访问:http://www.24en.com/
迷失在加沙

Egypt’s Gaza policy, highly unpopular at home and an embarrassment for Mr Mubarak in the Muslim world, has grown increasingly untenable. When the recent bloody fiasco of Israel’s raid on an aid flotilla again drew world attention to Gaza’s plight, Mr Mubarak buckled. Egypt opened its Gaza crossing to more traffic and is now advising its Western partners to admit the failure of their strategy and revise it. At the same time Egyptian officials take every opportunity to insist that Gaza remains Israel’s responsibility.

埃及的加沙政策在国内非常不得人心,也使得穆巴拉克难以面对穆斯林世界,这项政策已经越来越站不住脚了。最近以色列袭击了一个援助船队从而再次引起世界对加沙困境的关注,以色列在这个事件中一败涂地,体无完肤,穆巴拉克因而也退缩了。埃及开放了通向加沙的口岸,允许更多的车辆出入,并开始建议其西方伙伴们承认他们的策略已经失败,需要对这项政策进行修改。同时,埃及官员利用一切机会强调以色列对加沙的责任。

The mess next door has long been a drain on Egypt’s energies. Yet being saddled with nasty neighbours and demanding partners is not the only reason for Egypt’s relative decline. Egyptian skill at the game of geopolitics has atrophied as its professional diplomats have found themselves elbowed aside, replaced by a circle of aides to Mr Mubarak who share his outlook. Perhaps more importantly, Egypt’s leaders have failed to absorb an important lesson: that old foes such as Israel, new rivals for regional influence such as Turkey and even small non-state actors such as Hamas are strengthened by democracy. In Egypt, that still seems some way off.

傍恶邻而居始终是对埃及国力的一种损耗。然而,令人厌恶的邻居和难伺候的伙伴所带来的负担并非埃及国力相对下降的唯一原因。埃及原本精于地缘政治游戏,但现在却不善此技了,原因是职业外交家被穆巴拉克的助手们排斥在决策圈之外,而这些助手们与穆巴拉克的见解完全一致。如以色列这样的老冤家,如土耳其这样争夺地区影响力的新对手,甚至如哈马斯这样非国家、不起眼的跳梁小丑也都通过实行民主体制而强大起来,而埃及的领导人们却没有从中吸取深刻教训,这也许才是埃及衰退的主要原因。然而在埃及,民主仍非触手可及。