Since the overthrow of Mubarak as the President of Egypt there have been increasing difficulties with extreme lawlessness in both the Sinai and the border with Gaza. When President Morsi, who had the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood, made up the government in Egypt these problems grew in scope and severity. Reports told of al-Qaeda camps being established leading to radicalization of the Bedouins who found the offers to assist the weapons smugglers paid far better than their previous occupation of herding. The Egyptian government under Morsi began to try and combat the growing menace in the Sinai and even found it necessary to try and restrict the flow of arms into Gaza to Hamas and other terrorist groups there. After an attack on the Rafah border crossings where a band of terrorists murdered fifteen Egyptian border agents in the process of stealing some armored vehicles with which to cross into and attack Israel the Egyptians ramped up their presence for the first time and have done so as deemed necessary since. Their assault into Israel was met and repelled destroying at least one of the stolen armored vehicles. With the military inserted government which replaced the Morsi government after the coup that shall not be named a coup took over they increased the efforts to reinstate the rule of law in the Sinai and concurrently restrict the smuggling tunnels through which arms and other goods enter Gaza and fund Hamas. Despite the risks which any governance of Egypt would face working with Israel, both the Morsi and the Military backed governments have consulted and kept all agreements with Israel though not actually warming to any great extent. One guess is that the Egyptian governments, no matter who it is aligned with, have more than enough problems that since keeping relations with Israel at least non-confrontational if not warm and mushy were an easy investment that paid dividends when they entered into operations in the Sinai.
It is interesting that the Egyptians have had almost the same threats, difficulties and challenges which have plagued the Israelis over the years and they seem to have a similar attitude towards how to address these problems. The Egyptian government escalated their response soon after the military took over governing Egypt. With Israeli understanding and blessings the Egyptians sent armor supported forces in numbers into the Sinai supported by helicopter gunships. These offensives have met with somewhat limited success as the terrorists and smugglers are extremely adept at melting into the natural environment. The most recent escalation was somewhat shocking when the Egyptians stationed a pair of heavy tanks at the Rafah crossing as a response to the recent bombings pulled off by terrorist factions within Gaza. This escalation is a whole new strategy as I do not remember the Israelis stationing tanks within the Philadelphia Corridor when they controlled the Gaza border with Egypt. The Egyptians recently widened the cleared area on the Gaza border which resulted in their demolishing some houses which were revealed to have been used as tunnel entrances. This is the same reaction for which the Israelis were pilloried in the international press and heralded as brutes taking horrific and unnecessary destructive measures against the poor and unfortunate Palestinian civilians. Somehow, the recent actions though identical except having been committed by the Egyptians have passed by silently without even a murmur from the world media or the various NGOs which cursed similar actions by the Israelis. I guess it matters whose troops are exercising precautions taking the needful steps in order to make the environment safer for their troops operating along that border.
It will be interesting to watch as the Egyptians continue to meet the ever escalating challenges in the Sinai and along the Gaza border, though finding reports on such can be a bit difficult. It is expected that the Egyptians will resort to similar methods, precautions, demolitions, walls, blockades, vibrations sensors for tunnel detection, and all of the other overt and imposing appearing necessities for which the world’s media, governments, spokespersons, NGOs and United Nations Agencies challenged the necessity for when implemented by the Israelis. It can be expected that whenever there are comments about the similarities between the Egyptian methods and activities with those of the Israelis will be to note how the Egyptians are using good judgment, incremental escalations and only doing those actions which proved absolutely needed and not going to irrational extremes as the Israelis had done. An objective and rational observer would assess the actions of the Egyptians, when compared to the historic methods used by the Israelis, and report that they matched very closely and that the major exceptions would be the Egyptians went further than the Israelis by giving no or less warnings before demolitions, used heavy armor such as tanks, and the violence level implemented generally by the Egyptians was heightened with less regard for those who posed any level of perceived threat. But don’t expect any real coverage of the Egyptian actions nor will there be any apologies coming to the Israelis over their being berated and demeaned for their actions in the past. Where the actions and means employed may be similar, the reactions from the world will be completely different. If pushed for a reason the world is reacting differently to the Egyptian use of force versus the Israeli use of force, the answer will likely be a shrug and their asking what you are talking about, the Israelis use of force was completely different and what the Egyptians are doing is perfectly understandable. Where the Israelis use of force was measured and performed under strict rules and limitations and the Egyptians are allowing a more liberal implementation of force to a lesser threshold of provocation and are placing fewer restrictions on their forces which will be understood with their loss of troops being higher than the Israelis had suffered. I do not really care how the world reacts and simply wish the Egyptians success and hope they are able to end the lawless culture in the Sinai and close the smuggling into and out of Gaza, especially Gaza as the revolving door which potentially could result from failure would pose a huge threat for Israel as well as Egypt.
Beyond the Cusp