Sinai, Israel and the Game of Nations

By Abu Anas Last Sunday, Aug 5th, 2012, the Egyptian government accused militants of killing 16 border patrol troops on a checkpoint in Sinai near the border with Israel. The response of the government was the immediate deposing of the head of intelligence, the head of military police and the governor of North Sinai. More importantly, the government decided to send the military to track and eliminate any threat of militancy in Sinai. What was...
13th August 20125 min

Last Sunday, Aug 5th, 2012, the Egyptian government accused militants of killing 16 border patrol troops on a checkpoint in Sinai near the border with Israel. The response of the government was the immediate deposing of the head of intelligence, the head of military police and the governor of North Sinai. More importantly, the government decided to send the military to track and eliminate any threat of militancy in Sinai.

What was peculiar about the forces that were sent is their quantity and level of heavy weaponry. It was reported by the Associated Press that “Egyptian troops, light tanks, armored vehicles and attack helicopters are pouring into the Sinai desert.“[1] Based on the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel signed in 1979, Sinai should be a demilitarized zone and Egypt is not allowed to bring in military forces and heavy weaponry in such magnitude as what have entered Sinai recently. The Egyptian government said that the purpose of entering Sinai was to protect the borders, capture the militants and destroy the underground tunnels between Gaza and Sinai.

The argument of entering Sinai presented by the Egyptian government does not comply with historical behavior in similar cases before. Tunnels where destroyed by the Egyptian government, for example during the War on Gaza in 2008/9, but none of the heavy equipments and the amount of soldiers was utilized to do that. Increases of security at the borders with Gaza and Israel have been bumped up several times using police forces alone, since the Camp David Accords specifies that no military soldiers are allowed close to the border and only police is allowed. Hunting down militants does not really need tanks in that vast area. The only outcome of these forces is breaking the Camp David Accords which directly impacts Israel and its security. What is even more peculiar about the whole incident is Israel used to make a great fuss about any additions to any forces in Sinai, but this time it was very quiet and did not even raise any objections towards this huge amount of weaponry entering the peninsula!

For the last few weeks, there has been an increase in talk amongst the US and Israeli political and intelligence circles about the possibility of an Israeli air strike against the nuclear facilities in Iran. On August 1st, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited his counterpart in Israel, Ehud Barak, to try to talk Israel out of such a plan, but to no avail.[2] Just last Thursday, Ehud Barak, kept pushing the US to comply with the Israeli request in supporting and joining the effort to dismantle the Iranian nuclear threat through a joint military airstrike.[3] For the US administration, being on the verge of an elections and having strong anti-war public opinion, cannot afford to neither join nor allow such a risky operation that would definitely lead to chaos in the whole region and might force the US to get bogged down in another war in the Middle East.

It is in the interest of the US, due to concerns of this administration and overall national security, to deny Israel from implementing such a move. On the other hand, Israel knows that utilizing this election time might pressure the Obama administration to think about supporting its plots so that Obama does not seem as the weak president to his voters. That might explain why the US would try to use its pawns in the Middle East to block Israel from attempting a unilateral strike on Iran. Also last Thursday, a US official in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia sent a clear message to Israel, warning it from crossing Saudi airspace or it will shoot down its planes. Senior Israeli officials claimed that “the Americans are leveraging the Saudi threat in an attempt to dissuade Israel from launching a unilateral offensive on Iran’s nuclear facilities.“[4]


Egypt will not undertake such an action to affect the Camp David agreement without the US using its influence over Egypt’s military junta to stop such an act that challenges Israel’s security. Since, the US did not intervene; one understands that the Egyptians had the US blessings before they had entered Sinai with such a force, signaling to the Israelis that if they will strike Iran, they will lose their national security “insurance policy” with Egypt. If Israel complies, then one expects the rollback of such a force from Sinai, but on the other hand, if the Israelis continue with their threats, the expectation is that the Egyptian parliament would start talking about amendments to the Camp David agreement as one step in increasing the pressure on Israel. The US has used its agents in the Middle East to try to influence the foreign policy of Israel, a disgrace to the Muslims in those countries, where their countries are used as pawns on a chessboard by the world powers.

[4] http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4266427,00.html
* Image By David Lapetina (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) via Wikimedia Commons

One comment

  • Avatar
    Anonymous

    30th December 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Salaams,

    Just a couple of questions inshaAllah:

    1) how big a priority is Iran of Israel’s given the rise of political Islam over the last year in the sentiment and the military defections of Syria, Israel’s neighbour. Is the Israeli threat of forced Iranian non proliferation real?

    2) are you suggesting Egyptian forces were sent to the Sinai on US instruction? If it was merely with blessing, why does Egypt care so much about the Israel-Iran duel so as to station such forces in the Sinai?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Is the Two-State Solution Dead?

Is the Two-State Solution Dead?

1st June 2021
11 min
Rocket Politics

Rocket Politics

23rd May 2021
6 min