New War In Sinai? – OpEd


By Konstantin Garibov

Egypt has brought troops to the Sinai Peninsula for a large-scale operation against radical extremists. Meanwhile Israel as a passive observer is watching the revision of the Camp David peace agreements after insurgents made an attempt to encroach upon its territory earlier this week.

The Egyptian army is going to conduct a mop-up operation in one of the mountainous areas in an attempt to free the Sinai Peninsula from radical groups. For this purpose the authorities have redeployed tanks, aircraft and missiles launchers to Sinai. Under the regime of the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak Cairo managed to more or less control the situation on Sinai, Evgeny Satanovsky, president of the independent Institute for Middle Eastern Studies in Moscow says.

Sinai Peninsula
Sinai Peninsula

“After the “Arab Spring” and the fall of Mubarak Egypt does not control Sinai any longer. There is anarchy there. After the overthrow of Mubarak thousands and thousands of insurgents, Islamists, criminals were released from prisons. Thousands of units of weaponry are in free circulation in Egypt. This also includes missile systems, anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft systems. Sinai has become Hamas’ stronghold for launching strikes and conducting terrorist attacks against Israel.”

Last week many of these radical groups declared a real guerilla war to Cairo. Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi promised to restore order on the peninsula. Brining troops to Sinai across the Gulf of Suez is a significant argument in this standoff. But nobody dares to forecast what the outcome of this operation will be and when it will be over. Moreover the real control over the situation is possible only in cooperation with the Israeli special services. Under Mubarak this cooperation was reduced to minimum, which can be proved by the following episode. The Israeli intelligence service had the information that insurgents would undertake raid to the territory of Israel after capturing a check point on the Egyptian border. In the result the Israeli air forces liquidated the insurgents only at the distance of 50 meters from the border, while the Egyptian servicemen were absolutely unprepared to repel that raid.

Security cooperation with Israel would probably help Egypt’s president to find the way out of the Sinai deadlock. But it is unlikely that Muslim Brothers will allow their representative to cooperate too closely with the Zionist enemy, in particular, by signing any informal agreements.

Israel is interested in sooner restoration of Cairo’s control over Sinai. But the Conservative forces of Israel have not said their last word about Egypt’s troops shift to that area. Before 1973, Sinai was occupied by Israel and the Camp-David agreements obliged it to withdraw troops from there. Now there are Egyptian soldiers there instead of Israeli soldiers that is why it is possible to expect a negative reaction from Tel-Aviv.

It is obvious that radical extremists have already achieved what they wanted. They have managed to stir a serious crisis in the Egyptian-Israeli relations, Boris Dolgov an expert at the Institute of the Oriental Studies, says.

“Tense and uncertain situation in Syria will remain, which creates difficulties for Israel because radical Islamists will be trying to encroach upon its territory. Now there are grounds to speak about the growing direct threat to the Egyptian special services and the army because radical Islamists regard the Army of Egypt as their enemy.”

The farewell to the policemen who had been killed at the Rafah check point, which was held in Er-Rashdan mosque in Cairo was about to grow into a spontaneous clash. Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, who arrived to the ceremony, was attacked by the crowd and had to withdraw. The crowd threw shoes at him which is the indicator of the highest degree of contempt in Muslim world. The crowd also shouted words of damnation addressed to the Muslim Brotherhood. President Mohammed Mursi turned to be farsighted and refrained from attending the funeral.


VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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