Beyond the Cusp

August 27, 2012

Is Egypt Pulling Another Buildup in the Sinai?

After the serious breach of security by Sinai terrorists which resulted in sixteen Egyptian troops being murdered and at least on armored personnel carrier stolen and subsequently destroyed while it was utilized to attack and cross into Israel and other vehicles stolen or damaged, it was reported that Egypt would be permitted some amount of leeway regarding the Camp David Accords to use troops to hunt down the terrorists. Within a week the Israelis filed a complaint claiming that Egypt had taken liberties with their cooperation and had moved heavy armor and anti-aircraft batteries into the Sinai, things way beyond what was necessary for hunting down the terrorists. Egypt, of course, claimed they had respected the truce and had Israeli permission for their actions. The rest of the world failed to react and simply hoped that whatever was the case, the two countries would work it out between themselves. Well, no such resolution resulted and the American and other peacekeepers were reported to have come under fire and then were quoted denying any such attack had occurred. Opinions on whether such an attack occurred are mixed and our feeling is that whether there had been an attack or not, at least the American troops would very likely have been instructed to deny such in order to keep a lid on everything and not stir up any controversy in this election season. Either way, there have been developments confirming the Egyptian presence in the Sinai with twenty to thirty M-60A3 Main Battle Tanks, numerous Dutch-produced YPR-765 armored personnel carriers as well as several Boeing-produced Avenger air defense system complete with Stinger surface-to-air missiles. One must wonder if such heavy armor would really be necessary for hunting terrorists and exactly what aircraft the Egyptians are expecting to be utilized by the terrorists in the Sinai.

Obviously, the Egyptians are using this excuse to remilitarize the Sinai Peninsula as they have placed most of these assets between the coastal city of El Arish and the border with Israel and Gaza. This has raised the expected suspicions and complaints from the Israelis who are viewing this as a provocation. Granted, this is nowhere near the provocation that resulted in the Six Day War in June of 1967 when the Egyptians and the Syrians massed major percentages of their combined armies on Israel’s northern and southern borders. Still, this is a healthy first move towards building a sizeable and menacing force abrogating the treaty between Israel and Egypt. This is made all the more serious when one considers the mention by numerous Egyptian spokespersons over the recent weeks claiming their intent to amend the Camp David Accords to allow Egypt to regain full sovereignty over every inch of the Sinai. This would be a definitive step in that direction. We expect that should Egypt be forced to back away from stationing such forces in the Sinai that their reply will be that they can no longer be expected to assist or to prevent any terror buildup and increased terror activity in the Sinai if they are not allowed to have necessary assets in place to enable their enforcing the peace. Egypt will very likely force a choice upon Israel of Egyptian troops and heavy equipment complete with a full array of military hardware for any and all necessities or increasingly deadly terrorist activities in the Sinai with the terrorists building a military presence free of Egyptian attempts to prevent such and likely Egyptian surreptitious assistance.

So, one may wonder what the reactions have been around the world. Well, from the vast majority of world bodies such as the United Nations and individual countries, the reaction has been an extreme silence. The United States has had a different reaction. Secretary of State Clinton has phoned her Egyptian counterpart to review Israeli complaints over these violations. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland commented for the press, “This call was in keeping with a series of contacts that we’ve had in recent days with both Egyptians and Israelis encouraging both sides to keep the lines of communication open between them, to talk directly about any issues of concern, and the importance of working through the security challenges in the Sinai in a way that, first and foremost, strengthens Egypt’s security, but also has a positive impact on the security of neighbors and the region as a whole.” This will likely produce stupendously negligible results. On the other hand, the United States Department of Defense has awarded an $8.7 million contract to United Technologies for support of F100-PW-229 engines for Egypt’s order of 20 F-16 Block 52 multi-role fighters. This should definitely have some results if this situation should continue to build, something many Middle East watchers have predicted ever since the Muslim Brotherhood took command in Egypt.

We here at BTC believe that Egyptian President Morsi has taken these steps as a test to gauge the Israeli response and the world’s resolve, or lack thereof, towards enforcing the peace between Israel and Egypt. This is very likely a test to see whether Egypt would pay any real price for abrogating the treaty with Israel. He should have asked us here as we could have saved him time and effort, the world could not care less how or if Egypt were to completely throw out any semblance of keeping to the limitations dictated in the Camp David Accord. But, on the other hand, Israel cannot be expected to lie down and play dead either. Granted that twenty to thirty heavy tanks along with the APCs and SAM sites are nowhere near the threatening level placed on the Israeli border in late May of 1967. Some military experts believe that one of the reasons that Israel reacted so forcefully to the Egyptian and Syrian provocations had as much to do with the rhetoric and the blockading of their southern port of Eilat as it did to the massive and rapid buildup. If this is the beginning of a gradual buildup by the Egyptians hoping that by slowly attaining the size force necessitated for a strike on Israel, we doubt it was the speed of the buildup in 1967 and was the actual size and that should President Morsi be planning on a gradual buildup we would advise him that at some point Israel will assume his intentions are to invade and act exactly as they had in early June of 1967. Testing Israeli resolve would be one way of guaranteeing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s ability to form a unity government with the general support of much of the nation. It would be advisable for the Egyptians not to take protestations from much of the Israeli press and numbers of their academicians along with the leaders of the leftist anti-settler and anti-Haredi movements as indications that the Israeli public is fragmented and not supportive of an Israeli response to a buildup on their border by the Egyptians. The Israeli people as a whole are far more patriotic, nationalistic and conservative in their views of the outside world than they are portrayed by the media and their leftist allies. An overt buildup by Egyptian forces to any point where, when considered with the national rhetoric of the likes of Yusuf al-Qaradawi in his tirades against Jews, Israel and the West in general, there is a credible threat of imminent invasion, Israel will react very similarly as they did on June 7, 1967 and initiate action rather than await attack as Golda Meir had done with nearly catastrophic results before the Yom Kippur War which began on October 6, 1973 and resulted in heavy Israeli casualties before the battles turned in Israel’s favor. Any Egyptian buildup of any significance must take into account the Israelis likely response to such a provocation, especially with all the additional threats facing Israel on every other border and from Iran. Such a provocation could be the match that lights the very short fuse to an Israeli general strike to resolve multiple problems with one decisive initial action. An Egyptian buildup on the Israeli border is not an advisable set of actions even if it is solely being pursued in order to distract the Egyptians from their daily nest of growing problems and discontent. Egypt might be better served by addressing the shortcomings and taking care of their own house before threatening their neighbor’s house.

Beyond the Cusp

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: