Saturday, July 6, 2013

Israel Relying on Egyptian Army to Counter Islamists !

Israel is relying on the Egyptian army to suppress Islamist militants in the Sinai and to ensure the country's stability after the ouster of Mohammed Morsi as president, Israeli media and politicians stated. The ministers in the Israeli Cabinet have so far stuck to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's order for silence on the subject. But Member of Parliament Tzahi Hanegbi, who is close to Netanyahu, welcomed the ouster of Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president who is a log-standing member of the foul Muslim Brotherhood. Millions of protesters rallied to demand he quit for failing to abide by the 2011 revolution and bolstering his Islamist base at the expense of the rest of the country.

''Israel's clear interest is for Egypt to remain stable, favourable to the West and the U.S., and that it does not let itself get carried away by a wave of religious extremism,'' said Hanegbi, former head of the Knesset (parliament) commission on defence and foreign affairs. ''Over Morsi's year in power, we noticed worrying developments, and that is why the return to prominence of the army and a secular authority capable of ensuring the stability of the country is good news for Israel,''  he added.

Israel's former ambassador to Egypt, Yitzhak Levanson, also stressed the positive role of the army in Egypt. ''The Egyptian authorities are aware of Israeli sensitivity to everything that happens in the Sinai area, and now the Egyptian army feels a little freer to act firmly against the Islamist elements,''  he explained. ''Morsi couldn't help bragging what a great help he was as a negotiator in the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas last year but still kept up the anti-Jewish and anti-Christian rhetoric. His dogmatic Muslim Brotherhood ideology wasn't softened during his 'reign'.''

The daily Yediot Aharonot said that the ''security operation'' between the two countries has been beefed up in recent days. The newspaper reported that just several hours after Morsi's dismissal and arrest, an official Israeli representative secretly arrived in Cairo to meet with Egyptian security personnel and intelligence officials, without giving any further details. ''Security links were good during the Morsi period, and should be even better from now on,'' Yediot Aharonot reported.

A hive of militant activity, which Morsi ignored, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula is a major route for drugs smuggling, weapons and human trafficking. Ever since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011, throwing his feared security services into disarray, the region has grown even more restless and awash with all kinds of weapons. Attacks and kidnappings targeting Egyptian security forces in the area have multiplied, and the militants have fired rockets from the region at Israel.

On Friday, militants launched coordinated rocket and machine gun attacks on Egyptian army and police checkpoints in the Sinai, killing one soldier and wounding two others, Egyptian medical sources reported. Several Islamist militants have publicly threatened to carry out raids in reprisal for Mors's dismissal, almost taunting the new government to challenge them. The Israeli army said that it had ''authorized'' the deployment of Egyptian military reinforcements in the Peninsula. The 1979 peace treaty between the two countries has imposed strict controls on deployments but the recent threats has changed dynamic.

The army made a statement yesterday saying that, ''the Egyptian military activity in the Sinai is now coordinated with Israeli security elements and authorized at the most senior levels in Israel, in order to contend with the recent security threats in the Sinai that pose a threat to both Israel and Egypt.'' Oded Granot, a commentator for public television, also stressed that the Egyptian army ''has every chance of staying at the center of the political spectrum for a while yet.'' He noted that ''it will be a long time before an Egyptian leader can imitate Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who managed to bring the Turkish army into line.''

The Way I See It.....if the Egyptian armed forces don't get bogged down in a more violent confrontation with pro-Morsi supporters, which seems to be building as we speak, and turning into a preamble to civil war they could stabilize the turmoil. An Egyptian army in a strong position should continue to pursue a policy hostile to the Hamas rulers in the Gaza Strip by blocking the many tunnels between Gaza and Egypt to prevent Palestinian Islamist militants from infiltrating Egypt. We can only hope for the best now that President Obama has taken a hands-off attitude.

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