Monday, July 6, 2015

Terror in Sinai - Elliot Abrams



by Elliot Abrams

Israelis know that developments in Sinai will present threats to Israel sooner rather than ‎later. One must hope that in addition to protecting their border, the Israelis are giving the ‎Egyptians some advice on counterterror strategies.


The recent terrorist attacks in Sinai reveal several significant and dangerous developments.‎
Last week brought the murder in Cairo of Egypt's top prosecutor, but in Sinai the news was ‎even worse: well-coordinated terrorist attacks that displayed new capabilities.‎

The New York Times offered this summary:‎

"Just two days after militants assassinated Egypt's top prosecutor on a Cairo street, the ‎military on Wednesday called in F-16 war planes and helicopters to beat back a coordinated ‎assault in Northern Sinai by a jihadist group affiliated with the Islamic State. Egyptian ‎soldiers were killed, police officers were trapped in their posts, ambulances were paralyzed ‎by booby-trapped roads and residents were warned to stay indoors by jihadists roaming on ‎motorcycles.‎"

Israeli analysts noted three things. First, despite the much larger Egyptian military ‎activity in Sinai, the Egyptian Army has been incapable of crushing the terrorists. Under the ‎Egypt-Israel peace treaty, Egypt must limit its military presence in Eastern Sinai. But Israel ‎has permitted the Egyptians to forget about those limits entirely. Acting freely, then, the ‎Egyptians have still not succeeded and the terrorist activities have grown. The Egyptian ‎Army has given no evidence that it knows how to combat the terrorists effectively. ‎

Second, the terrorists are getting better at it. Last year they appeared as a ragtag bunch ‎holding Kalashnikovs ("armed Bedouins," one Israeli journalist said). Now they have ‎attacked several targets in one day in a well-coordinated movement, they wear uniforms, ‎and they have more advanced equipment such as anti-tank missiles. This is the ISIS we ‎have come to know in Iraq.‎

Third, there are connections between the terrorists in Sinai and Hamas in Gaza. There are ‎accusations that Hamas has done some training of these jihadis in Sinai, has provided ‎them with funds, and has given medical treatment to wounded jihadis in Gaza hospitals.‎

Israelis know that developments in Sinai will present threats to Israel sooner rather than ‎later. One must hope that in addition to protecting their border, the Israelis are giving the ‎Egyptians some advice on counterterror strategies. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's overall strategy is a ‎blunt one: repression. It is not going to work -- in Sinai or anywhere in Egypt. This is partly ‎because the targets of repression are not only the terrorists but any critics of the ‎government. The government of Egypt now has about 40,000 political prisoners, and it is ‎crushing all political activity -- moderate, secular, liberal, democratic as well as extremist. ‎That's a formula for instability in the medium and perhaps even short term. Moreover, it is ‎not going to work because the army and police don't seem very effective in their counter‎terror actions and strategies.‎

So, look for worse trouble in Sinai, and in all of Egypt. Of course, an unstable Egypt and a ‎terrorist war in Sinai are very alarming news for Israel. In three visits to Israel this year, I ‎have found virtually all Israeli officials in love with El-Sissi. I can see why: He threw Muslim ‎Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi out, he is opposing Hamas and the Brotherhood, ‎and he is fighting terror in Sinai. Israelis should step back and ask themselves whether the ‎method El-Sissi is using -- blunt repression -- will work in post-Tahrir Egypt. And if not, where is ‎Egypt headed? Judging by the last week, it is headed for more violence and instability.‎

From "Pressure Points" by Elliott Abrams.



Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. 


Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=13069

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

No comments:

Post a Comment