Egyptian police announced that the found the bodies of 2 beheaded men in their 30s in northern Sinai. No other information is available at this point.
Posts Tagged ‘Sinai’
Egypt has deployed heavy security around foreign embassies in Cairo because of increased fears of terrorist attacks, according to the Saudi daily Ukaz.
Authorities said that terrorists from the Sinai are planning to attack an embassy and that the Muslim Brotherhood is planning to strike several targets throughout Egypt to undermine the Al-Sisi regime.
The upcoming calendar year will be filled with changes in the Arab world and new challenges for Israel to face, according to the IDF annual ‘crystal ball’ report from military intelligence. None of that is news to anyone living in this region.
But the more problematic part in the IDF MI annual assessment document is in the acknowledgement that beyond the first few months of 2015, it is really not possible to predict with any accuracy what the next year will bring.
Israel’s entire leadership is in flux; a new IDF general chief of staff, Gadi Eizenkot, is taking the helm at the same time early elections are being held.
Any emerging victorious party chairman will be asked by President Reuven Rivlin to form a new coalition, at a time that Israel is facing potentially serious threats on at least three (Lebanon, Syria, Gaza) of its five borders. A fourth border, that with Sinai, is questionable due to terror bases nestling in the region.
That’s not including the internal threat Israelis face from the rising third intifada and the rabid anti-Israel media and government incitement encouraged by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, so beloved and lauded by international leaders. The United Nations Security Council is to vote Monday (Dec. 29, 2014) on a proposed deadline to force the expulsion of Israeli military forces from post-1967 territory. Either way the vote goes, the outcome and its fallout is not yet clear.
Meanwhile, there are other issues to consider when gazing into the Crystal Ball. The jostling for post-election ministerial portfolios, coalition bargaining and acclimation of new ministers and their seconds to their roles will be taking place at the same time new Knesset members will be learning their new jobs and jockeying for committee spots too. Many more experienced and savvy leaders are leaving the government, having had their fill of the bickering, vindictiveness and stupidity. Who will mind the store while all this is going on?
Folks, there’s a war going on. We’re not in the bomb shelters on a daily basis yet, but that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods either. The sunny skies have a few clouds.
According to the MI report, it is clear that chemical weapons still exist in Syria, what is left of it, that is, and are being used by someone. What is not clear is the extent of control exercised over that supply by President Bashar al-Assad.
“Greater Syria” is no longer; Assad today refers to “Little Syria,” the 20 to 30 percent of the country he still controls, hence his belated attempt to “negotiate” with rebel leaders. Too little, too late, naturally. Syria has fallen apart, as has Libya – split into three states – and Sudan, now cut into two.
There are no real “Syrian rebel leaders” today either. Instead there are “emirates” and “emirs” in the developing caliphate being created by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the rapidly spreading ISIS terror organization.
ISIS has already taken over much of Iraq, and has done the same in Syria. The spoils of the land are divided up with its rebel partners in the civil war against Assad – Jabhat al Nusra, the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front and other terror groups. But they tend to fight against each other when they’re not banding together to fight against Assad’s forces – a bit like some of the Middle Eastern countries they have grown up in.
Meanwhile, it’s not clear where the Free Syrian Army stands in all this: the more moderate, Muslim rebel force is as ruthless as any other, but not enslaved to anyone but its own leadership at least. For that reason, perhaps, it is this force the West has chosen to support, albeit grudgingly, fearfully, and surreptitiously.
There has been much talk of partnership between Israel and moderate Arab states, Saudi Arabia Jordan and Egypt. Addressing radicalism in the Sinai Peninsula, the land bridge connecting Africa with the Middle East, presents these countries with a golden opportunity to unify. Development of an enhanced buffer zone at the Sinai/Gaza border, bomb resistant pipelines, and reinforced ports in Egypt and Israel provides additional opportunity for this union.
ISIS and the Syrian civil war dominate headlines in the Middle East. Through aggressive PR, ISIS has been attracting followers worldwide. Victory for moderate, pro-Western nations in the in the Sinai would undermine the confidence and charisma of ISIS, directing potential followers away from its radical path.
Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan all have much to gain in fortifying the Gaza border, providing better protection of pipelines, and greater fortification of ports in Israel and Egypt. The effectiveness of the Suez Canal, through which 8 percent of global trade travels, is undercut because of radicalism in Yemen and Somalia. Safety of Israeli and Egyptian ports, from which goods to the West are shipped, are challenged by Hamas, Al Qaida, and the ISIS conflict in Syria. Saudi Arabia, struggling with radical groups like Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula must counter obstruction from Yemen to its South and the Strait of Hormuz to its North. The Saudis depend on passage of fuels to safe ports in the Mediterranean as well. Jordan, having very little of its own natural resources, contends with Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood, and relies heavily on safe transport of fuels from Israel and Egypt.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, Hamas, and the local Bedouin population are the most important actors involved in the Sinai conflict. After the fall of Mohammad Morsi in 2011, many radical Islamists in Egypt, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula, see violence as their only means of gaining power. This was highlighted by the return of Ayman Al Zawahiri to Egypt, as well reinvigorated Al Qaida presence in the peninsula. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, rising to prominence in 2013, is a local branch of Al Qaida, recently affiliated with ISIS. ABM gained support from radical Islamists after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood. Some in the Sinai say they have seen Muhammad Al Zawahiri, Ayman’s brother, working with ABM. On a positive note, if ABM becomes too closely linked with ISIS, it may lose credibility as specifically representing Egyptian Islamists disheartened by the fall of Morsi, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Victory against ABM would further hasten this.
Recently, ABM used rockets smuggled from the Palestinian border through Hamas tunnels. It attempted an assassination on Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim in Cairo in September, 2013. On October 24th, ABM also attacked a security checkpoint in the Sinai, killing 33 Egyptian security personnel.
Hamas, an offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood based in Gaza, helped enable the car bombing in the October 24th attack conducted by ABM. Black market tunnel trade and logistics at the Gaza border is one tangible way that it can be linked to Al Qaida and ISIS in the Sinai. Hamas may have an agreement with the Palestinian group Jaish al-Islam to train people to fight in Yemen, Syria, and the Sinai. Since its leadership began in 2007, tunnels from the Sinai into Gaza have contributed $230 million in monthly revenue. Radical allegiances are not as simple as Sunni versus Shia. Although Hamas is a radical Sunni group, it has been linked with Iran for funding, weaponry, strategy, and training.
When stakes against Western targets are high, groups funding Sunni and Shia radicalism unite. In the past, the military wing of Hamas has imported Iranian-made long range Fajr-5 rockets. It has been suspected recently that Iranians linked to Hamas were working with ABM to strategize deadly attacks on the peninsula. Recently, the discovery of a Klos-C missile, as well as 40 rockets and 400,000 bullets were intercepted in the region and thought to be in transit to Gaza.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi accidentally showed his dangerous side to Israel.
A few days ago, during his trip to Italy, al-Sisi voiced a radical proposition that showed more of his cards than he probably planned to show off.
He proposed that Egypt could deploy Egyptian military troops into Judea and Samaria, to “temporarily” monitor and act as a guarantor for the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Egypt has been increasing its troop deployments along the Gaza border, usually in coordination with Israel, in order to fight Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas terrorists who are attacking Egypt. That sounds fair enough, despite the treaty violations.
But his recent proposal shows us that al-Sisi has far bigger visions as to how far he wants to really extend and expand his military might, all the way onto a second Israeli front.
No one in Israel will consider this a serious proposal, but it does give us insight into al-Sisi’s long term thinking, and the next time al-Sisi asks Israel to ignore the Camp David Peace Treaty and let Egypt insert more troops into the Sinai along Israel’s border, Israel should keep in mind that al-Sisi has bigger dreams, and more Egyptian troops along the Israeli southern border is just one them.
After discovering last week, a tunnel from Gaza into the Sinai that extended 1850 meters, Egypt has decide to extend it sterile zone along its 14 kilometer Gazan border from 500 meters to 1000 meters it was announced on Thursday.
So far Egypt has destroyed 500 Rafah homes, affecting 25,000 people, and that number will now increase.
Egypt has paid out close to 8 million dollars to Rafah residents who homes were destroyed.The town of Rafah is located on the southern end of Gaza and is split in two by the border, half on the Gazan side, and half on the Egyptian/Sinai side.
In addition, Egypt is digging a trench along the 50 kilometer border that goes down to a depth of 50 meters to help stop the infiltrations from Gaza into the Sinai.
Egypt is still angry at the recent Gazan terror attack that killed over 30 Egyptian security personnel, which it blames on Hamas.
It has completely shut down the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza.
Only Israel’s crossings into Gaza remain open, and Israel is allowing in construction material this coming week, which the UN claims will be monitored for misuse.
Gaza needs the construction material to rebuild homes that were destroyed after Hamas attacked Israel this summer and instigated a war.
Egyptian President A-Sisi said on Egyptian TV that he wasn’t going to allow Sinai to become a staging ground for terror attacks against Israel.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has agreed to an Egyptian request to deploy two infantry battalions and helicopters in the terror-plagued Sinai, another relaxation of the allowed number of Egyptian troops permitted in the Sinai under the 1979 treaty.
Th peace treaty stipulates that Israel must agree to additional troops.
For the time being, Israel is happy that President Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi is fighting Hamas and jihad terror in the Sinai, immediately south of Gaza, where a jihad attack last week killed 31 Egyptian soldiers. Cairo has charged that Hamas was involved in coordinating and carrying out the murders.
This is not the first time Israel has agreed to Egypt’s sending in more armed soldiers into the Sinai, which was used by the Egyptian regime in 1973 to start the Yom Kippur War. The issue rose after the fall of the Mubarak regime, and Knesset Members unsuccessfully argued that legislative approval was necessary before Egypt could beef up its presence in the Sinai, a move which also would give it an opportunity in the future to turns its guns on Israel in the future.
In 2012, Egypt moved in tanks without Israel approval.
“It is clear to everyone that the Egyptians — whether they succeed in dealing with the terror in Sinai or don’t — at some point are going to ask to open the military appendix,” Yediot Acharonot journalist Alex Fishman wrote at the time.. “The meaning of this is that the demilitarization of Sinai will be eroded, which is one of the most important anchors of the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.”
The recent approval to deploy additional soldiers is conditioned on Egypt’s fighting “terrorist organizations,” Army Radio reported.
In the past four years, Egypt has gone through the Mubarak regime, a temporary military regime, the openly anti-Israel and anti-American Muslim Brotherhood government, another temporary military regime and now the government headed by al-Sisi.
What happens if the Islamists take over again, or if Abbas takes over Gaza and convinces Al-Sisi to oppose Israel until” Jerusalem is liberated”?
The Egyptian government will be armed to the teeth in the Sinai with Israel conveniently in range of its tanks.