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As Egypt Declares Independent Course, Israel Whines

egyptian tanks enter sinai

Egyptian tanks enter Sinai against Israel’s wishes (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Israel’s expressions of concern for Egypt’s deployment of tanks in the Sinai are both ironic and hypocritical.  The 1979 peace treaty restricts the force-level Egypt can maintain there.  This, is turn, has helped turn the region into a smuggler-terrorist paradise where Al Qaeda and native Bedouin tribes reign.  After a recent terror attack that took the lives of 15 police officers and nearly ended in a penetration of the Israeli border that could have been disastrous, Egypt has moved aggressively to take back the area.  This should be what Israel wants it to do.  But apparently, Israel believes Egypt can control the region with a few hundred under-equipped police officers.  Here is the mealy-mouthed hypocrisy emanating from Barak’s defense ministry:

“We must be very severe with abiding by the spirit and the letter of the peace treaty — otherwise we will be on a slippery slope, and no one knows where this might lead,” the senior official said…

Does the “letter and spirit” of the peace treaty also call for turning the Sinai into a terrorist base from which to launch attacks on Egypt and Israel?  Or does the latter feel that it should be the sole power patrolling Sinai?  Perhaps a new treaty that will give the area back to Israel?

I find, and certainly Egyptians do as well, the notion that a nation cannot decide for itself how to protect its own sovereign territory to be offensive.  What nation would agree willingly to this, especially when its own forces come under attack from this territory?  I don’t think Egypt owes Israel any explanation.  In fact, it should be self-evident that what it’s doing benefits Israel too since it will be that much harder to mount terror attacks of the sort that hit Eilat last summer, killing eight Israelis and five Egyptian troops (killed by Israel).

Perhaps when Israel finally agrees to a peace treaty with the Palestinians it may agree to forego the right to patrol in a large area inside the Green Line in order to respect Palestinian fears that Israel will mount an offensive against it from this territory?  I’m sure Israel would have no problem with such a proposal.

The foolishness of all this is that Israel denies to Egypt what it routinely arrogates to itself: a strong, robust military presence to protect its security.

Egypt’s new government has further complicated things by sending its president to an upcoming non-aligned conference in Iran.  The same one that the UN’s Ban Ki Moon has announced he plans to attend.  The latter visit has irked Bibi Netanyahu so strongly that he attempted to organize a social media campaign to stop the visit.  Apparently, it hasn’t gone as viral as he had hoped and Ban still intends to participate.  Of course, the Israeli leader has ignored the fact that UN leaders routinely attend such summits.  And that this one, at which 120 nations will be represented, allows Ban to mingle with well over half of his international constituency.  But as far as Bibi is concerned, Ban is being a troublesome uppity “Negro” when it comes to Iran as you can see from this NY Times article.

Pres. Morsi’s decision to visit Iran doesn’t follow the script that Israel and the U.S. have written in which a strongly united Sunni front stands unalterably opposed to Iranian hegemony.  Further, according to this narrative, the Sunni states of the Gulf, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are so frightened of the ayatollahs that they’d secretly welcome an attack on their arch-enemy.  A divided Muslim Middle East offers support for the notion that Israel and/or the U.S. could attack Iran and not wreak havoc with the regional order as most experts maintain.

But Egypt is rewriting the script, which can’t make Israel happy.  Egypt is maintaining an independent posture that embraces neither narrative.  It’s maintaining an open mind, something that also irks Israel.  That country still hasn’t fully woken from the nightmare that was the Arab Spring.  There is a new order in the Middle East.  The strongmen are out.  The people are ruling or at least trying to rule in those nations where the seeds of democracy started to take root.  Populism is the order of the day, not authoritarianism.  If Israel doesn’t recognize that it is now dealing with a multi-polar world in which it can’t buy off the élite, then it will learn that lesson the hard way.  Perhaps a war, perhaps a number of other ways in which its power and interests will be opposed or circumvented.  The nation that doesn’t recognize such new developments is one that could rapidly become irrelevant.

Morsi is sending Israel and the U.S. a signal that he won’t be a silent partner in Israel’s hegemonic aspirations regarding Iran.  He will chart his own course.  Other nations like Turkey are doing the same.  Israel will have to navigate these uncharted waters.  It has done a poor job of it so far.

As is to be expected, Jodi Rudoren has published an article that embraces this Israeli narrative instead of treating it as but one among many that should be entertained seriously.  Yes, she’s the Israel correspondent, but that’s no reason to give short shrift to the Egyptian perspective or even the Iranian for that matter.


{ 44 comments… add one }
  • shmuel August 23, 2012, 4:20 AM

    What you say about Egyptian troop levels in Sinai may be logical, but one must remember that a treaty is by definition a mutual agreement and was agreed upon by both sides by negotiations (not enforced by war as in Versailles).

    Saadat and Begin, with Carter, not a major Israel lover, signed in good faith and did not put a time limit to this clause. Thus it can only be changed by mutual agreement. Israel agreed to a finger and Egypt is taking the whole hand.

    The agreement took years to broker, but the delicate balance can be upset in an instant. Both sides ought to be very careful.

    • herenot August 23, 2012, 5:11 AM

      also it should be noted that the terror incident that brought all this about involved an egyptian armed vehicle with which ISRAEL’s sovriegnty was attacked.

      • Fred Plester August 23, 2012, 6:38 AM

        It was a lightly-armed, police armoured personnel carrier, hi-jacked in an attack which the Israelis knew was going to happen and did not warn the Egyptian police about.

        • bar_kochba132 August 23, 2012, 12:38 PM

          A high ranking Egyptian official did say that Israel warned them of the attack but didn’t take it seriously because they could not believe that Muslims would kill other Muslim, especially during Ramadan. Apparently this felow has not been reading the news from Syria lately.

          • Richard Silverstein August 23, 2012, 11:42 PM

            Link? Source? A high ranking Egyptian official told the media that he’d received a warning and passed it on to local officials or something of the sort. I never saw or read anything of what you claim.

            As for Syria, off-topic & the comment was racist to boot.

          • Bob Mann August 24, 2012, 12:08 AM

            Here is a link and source for the claim above:

            Egypt admits: We had early warning on Sinai attack

            Head of Egyptian intelligence Morad Mowafi admitted that the Arab country had received intelligence warnings prior to Sunday’s terror attack in Sinai, which left 16 Egyptian border guards dead.


          • Deïr Yassin August 24, 2012, 12:16 AM

            Yep, I would like a source too. Never read or heard about that.That they wouldn’t believe Muslims would kill other Muslims during Ramadan is pure bullshit, violence often raises during ramadan, everybody knows that !

            Bar Kochba is a well-know liar (under various pen-names: Ben Israel, I_Like_Ike_52, XYZ, etc), and his speciality is planting the same lies on the net under his various pen names.

            He’s a professional hasbarist, a couple of days ago he wrote on +972 mag that he’s been monitoring left-wing blogs for a couple of years. ‘Monitoring’, huh ! Maybe his real name is Gerald Steinberg ….

          • Deïr Yassin August 24, 2012, 4:37 AM

            @ Bob
            According to the article in Ynetnew – and I take their articles with a grain of salt – the Egyptian military official didn’t speak about Muslims not killings Muslims, nor abour Ramadan in general, but about the specific moment of iftar, the breaking of the fast.

        • herenot August 24, 2012, 1:24 PM

          “It was a lightly-armed, police armoured personnel carrier”


        • Chulent August 24, 2012, 3:49 PM

          Lightly armored means?

          Will stop all conventional pistol bullets.
          Will stop US. M16 5.56 mm bullets NATO
          Will stop AK 47 7.62 x39 mm.
          Will stop 7.62 x51 NATO.
          Will stop shrapanel from hand grenades,mortar rounds and artillery. Note a direct hit from artillery and depending on the size of the mortar would penetrate the vehicle.
          My highly paid local police department is not equipped to stop that lightly armored vehicle unless they had a 50 caliber sniper rifle set up in advance.

          What stopped the vehicle was a missile from an attack helicopter and then a tank round.

          • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2012, 5:16 PM

            So you’re arguing because a lightly armed (aside from the armored vehicle), poorly trained, under manned gendarmerie was overwhelmed by a band of terrorists that Israel should continue to insist Egypt not have the means to protect either itself or Israel from local terrorists?

            I do have an alternative to suggest. If you can’t seem to trust governments of your neighbors or get along with surrounding countries, I might suggest packing up and moving to a nice secure place where you won’t face such inconveniences: Antarctica comes to mind. Or if you’re really willing to travel you could colonize Mars.

          • Fred Plester August 25, 2012, 8:03 AM

            Ie: it was stopped, easily and promptly by the Israeli forces which knew in advance the incident was going to happen and which were sitting around waiting for the Egyptian police to be murdered. It’s actually quite easy to obtain vehicles which will stop pistol bullets and 7.62mm NATO rounds; in the US and South Africa you can be a private citizen and buy such vehicles easily. It’s noticeable that you don’t list .338″ or .50″ sniper rifles, or M203 grenade launchers, M72 rockets or any of the half dozen things which any modern infantry platoon has to hand that will stop this kind of vehicle. Complaining that it’s proof against 7.62mm NATO is like shrieking that it can’t be destroyed by the average settler housewife on her way to the shops.

          • Chulent August 26, 2012, 12:09 PM

            Poorly trained , well that must be 30 years of Egyptian incompetence.
            Certainly sufficiently well armed to fight of the terrorists that attacked them. They have AK,machine guns, hand grenades. They even had their own army base. They can train or not train as much as they want. I would suggest that they start by training them to maintain a sufficient number of folks on duty guarding their post so they all are not slaughtered.

            There are plenty of Egyptian troops authorized for Southern Sinai bordering the suez canal and deeper into Sinai. The Egyptians do not even keep a full compliment of troops permitted to them in Southern Sinai.

          • Richard Silverstein August 26, 2012, 6:29 PM

            Poorly trained & undermanned because Israel demanded it be that way. Israel wanted a small number of security personnel, very lightly armed & poorly trained so that they would pose no security threat to it. As a result, Egyptian personnel cannot fight off smugglers, let alone professional jihadists.

            So don’t try to pretend how smart you are. Hasbara doesn’t become you.

    • Richard Silverstein August 23, 2012, 11:42 AM

      The problem is that this Israeli government is unlike the one that negotiated the original treaty. Bibi would never allow Egypt to put the necessary military personnel into Sinai to police the territory. Egypt recognizes that & hence is forced to go it’s own way.

      Tell me, has Israel expressed any understanding for the Egyptian predicament? Offered to renegotiate that aspect of the treaty? You know the answer.

      • Boaz August 24, 2012, 7:43 AM

        How is any of this related? Seems like you’re blowing smoke, no? It’s a truism that a government 30 years later will have little resemblance to what it used to be, time has that effect. The point of a treaty is that it outlasts those that initially signed it, but you know all that.

        “Forced to go it’s own way” Why is that never an excuse for what we do here?

        The last line about renegotiating is more smoke – when should this have happened? with whom? they just formed a new government, had a coup, then an apparent counter-coup. So things have been a bit busy. Besides I find it highly unlikely that the new Egyptian prez would even agree to sit round a table with an Israeli delegation of any sort.

        As an Israeli, I’m not comfortable with Arab tanks and anti-aircraft missiles just south of a weak border at the current time, when it seems like we are on the brink of war. Just apply the below quote to my position as an Israeli:

        “I find, and certainly Egyptians do as well, the notion that a nation cannot decide for itself how to protect its own sovereign territory to be offensive”.

        • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2012, 9:49 AM

          As an Isreli, you’re typically deluded that you’re “on the brink” of war” with Egypt. And I’d posit that this delusion is precisely what will bring you to the brink of war, indeed already has numerous times with Egypt or one of your other neighbors.

          BTW, I haven’t heard any Israeli leader say he was willing to renegotiate the military aspects of the treaty with Egypt so that it could properly PATROL ITS TERRITORY. Also, history has a habit of making a mockery of punitive treaties like Sinai which forbade Egypt from having enough forces there to properly police it. Remember the Versailles Treaty ending WWI which demilitarized Germany? Didn’t turn out too well did it?

      • Maj. William Martin September 4, 2012, 5:20 PM

        Hello, I am not into politics’, But I’m also not into wars either. It is by far sad to watch 1000’s give their lives in what later is and has to be settled at a table man to man. Or like Henry Kissinger said, “Military men are dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy”.

        However, I being now disabled watch many news items a day via the internet and from all over the planet. I though I would share a video with you that I think personally is more of a growing problem for Israel then anything else in the region. Namely since on March 18th, 2012 both the Mossad and CIA confirmed that Iran hasn’t got a nuclear weapon’s program at all. That Iran has again called for a nuclear weapon’s free Middle East and that both China and Russia would also consider this, but we know the “players” who wont.

        Anyway, Here is Israel’s threat today. I hope you see the weight of what is building here. One thing is for sure is that any attack on Iran is surely going to ignite the Muslim world and this video may perhaps come to pass.
        [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI3wG3loKlA&list=FLwNukNKBYKukFgfeZTmvbSg&index=3&feature=plpp_video ]

        May you have peace.

    • Mary Hughes Thompson August 23, 2012, 8:27 PM

      @ Shmuel “Israel agreed to a finger and Egypt is taking the whole hand.”
      Forgive me if I can’t stop laughing at this. I can’t resist using similar phraseology in describing what has happened to the Palestinians: “The U.N. agreed to give Israel a finger and Israel has taken the whole hand, and the other hand, and the arms, and the legs, and the head, and seems intent on taking the entire body.”

  • Joel August 23, 2012, 4:34 AM

    Sinai was demilitarized and free of terrorism for 30 years. Egypt, and Egypt alone is responsible for letting Sinai become a base for terrorism and Egypt recently reaped the whirlwind when Sinai based terrorists attacked and killed Egyptian soldiers.

    No. Ban is not being a troublesome uppity “Negro”. Quite the opposite. Ban is being a ‘useful idiot’ by traveling to Iran and giving that nation legitimacy while Iran disregards it’s nuclear treaty obligations and flouts the EU arms embargo on weapons to Syria.

    • Richard Silverstein August 23, 2012, 11:49 PM

      There were terror attacks on Israeli tourist spots in Sinai going back quite some time, so it was not free from Sinai for 30 yrs as you claim. But it was free from terror while there was no terror in that general vicinity. Once Al Qaeda came on the scene terror migrated to Sinai. If Israel had negotiated a solution to the Palestinian conflict there would be no powder keg in Gaza that could be exploited by Sinai Islamists.

      If Egypt is responsible then allow it the tools that any other state in the world possesses to patrol its own borders. If you deny it those tools then have Israel renounce the treaty & reconquer Sinai & then have Israel be responsible for it.

      As for the difference between an uppity Negro & useful idiot, you’ll have to forgive me–there isn’t any. BTW, I find it offensive to call the UN Secretary General an idiot. In fact, anyone who would do so is himself an idiot.

      • herenot August 24, 2012, 2:01 PM

        “As for the difference between an uppity Negro & useful idiot, you’ll have to forgive me–there isn’t any”

        well, that’s just ignorance on your part, Richard.


        the term “useful idiot” was a term coined by the soviets relating to western academics who sympathised with the U.S.S.R.

        I don’t think that Ban is a usefull idiot, though, there are others who fit the bill exactly. a certain Blogger who tends to publish canards every now and then springs to mind.

        (please ban me again, it saves me a lot of time :)

        • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2012, 5:18 PM

          I think you’re not even a useful idiot. You’re just an idiot, full stop.

          I make a habit of always obliging commenters who urge me to ban them.

  • mary August 23, 2012, 6:29 PM

    Morsi is not about to become Israel’s stooge; he is a man dedicated to rebuilding Egypt not as a willing slave to western and Israeli interests, but as a new and independent nation. Israel is angry about this and about Morsi’s firing of the army’s two top generals, who were cooperative under Mubarak’s rule. The irrationality of Israel’s objections to Egypt’s steps to secure the Sinai is typical of the petulance and short-sightedness of the Israelis.

  • bluto August 23, 2012, 8:52 PM

    Israel needs to be contained as an long-term strategy for the Middle East – the Turkish-Egyptian military cooperation and alliance is a good first step.

    Mursi would be interested in developing ties to Iran as well, including military cooperation to contain the Israelis, which is of course exactly the opposite course the Israeli Lobby/Israeli puppet Mubarak took.

    Surprise, surprise…

  • Boaz August 24, 2012, 7:32 AM

    Quote of the month:
    “I find, and certainly Egyptians do as well, the notion that a nation cannot decide for itself how to protect its own sovereign territory to be offensive”

    @Dick (short for richard, I believe), i bet you stand by that statement wholeheartedly, just as long it does not refer to Israeli actions/policy.

    I come here once in a while, initially i thought this was a nice and provocative independent left-leaning blog. But i get the feeling that you’re more of a stooge for Iran or something lately.

    • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2012, 9:52 AM

      You know my name asshole, use it. You’re now moderated & your next asshole antics will land you in comment hell where you belong.

      As for being a stooge, I’d say you’re a boor of the first order. Using juvenile methods of insulting people is your jack in trade.

      • Boaz August 25, 2012, 4:59 AM

        Best way to tell a stooge is watch what it does, not so much what it says, and instead of responding to my comment, you attack me. So, answer my question asshole – “I find, and certainly Egyptians do as well, the notion that a nation cannot decide for itself how to protect its own sovereign territory to be offensive” – how does this square with all the shit you spew about israel? every neighboring arab state can protect it’s sovereignty as it pleases , except us?

        I bet you’re got a couple of nice persian rugs out of this blog, lol.

        Btw, only you can curse? Two legs good and all that, funny tactics for a supposed “liberal”. The root of liberal is liberty, the freedom to act, and the respect of other’s rights to same, as opposed to fascists, who censor, coerce, and lie to prevent the other from acting, which side of the fence are you really on?

        • Richard Silverstein August 25, 2012, 10:07 PM

          Speaking of Stooges, which one are you? Larry, Moe or Curly?

          I don’t have any problem with Israel defending its own borders as defined by the Green Line. But any Israeli activity beyond the Green Line is not defending its border but projecting its power outside its borders.

          As for calling me an “asshole,” you’re banned.

          • Elisabeth August 26, 2012, 4:25 AM

            Great. He can continue to enjoy your “nice and provocative independent left-leaning blog” and we are spared his comments. A win-win situation.

  • pea August 24, 2012, 11:02 AM

    The New York Times reported that the increase in Egyptian forces in the Sinai was done with Israeli approval. And why not? They blew up Gaza tunnels and went after Al Qaeda elements:

    “A spokesman for the Egyptian President, Mohammed Mursi, denied receiving any complaints from Israel. Citing an unidentified military source, Al Ahram, the flagship state-run newspaper, dismissed the matter as a fabrication of the Israeli media and said the move had been co-ordinated with the Israeli military… Officials have noted that the military appendix to the treaty was modified two years ago, when the situation in Sinai began to deteriorate, to allow seven additional Egyptian battalions into the area, though Egypt has yet to fill that quota.”

    Read the article for free in the Brisbane Times.

    • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2012, 5:21 PM

      Wow, now you quote Al Ahram as a reliable source?

      • pea August 25, 2012, 2:23 AM

        I was citing the New York Times, who cited Al Ahram – which I don’t really have a problem with. It is what it is, “the flagship state-run newspaper…” There are additionally multiple citations pointing to prior Israeli approval of the deployment of up to 7 Egyptian battalions to the Sinai. Israel’s right wing media is going nuts saying that this deployment is illegal and a violation of the Peace treaty. They’re simply wrong.

      • Bob Mann August 25, 2012, 5:05 AM

        What is a good, reliable source in English for news out of Egypt? Is there one that you can recommend?

        • Richard Silverstein August 25, 2012, 11:08 PM

          Al Ahram is known as being a government mouthpiece. I don’t know enough about Egyptian media to recommend anyone to you. But I can ask an Israeli who would probably know.

        • mary August 26, 2012, 12:17 PM

          The Egypt Independent.

    • pea August 25, 2012, 11:20 AM

      Here’s further confirmation that Egyptian troop movements in the Sinai were done with Israeli approval, the source is Ma’an and was reported by the International Middle East Media Center: http://www.imemc.org/article/64110

      An Egyptian security source told the Maan News Agency that the ongoing negotiations between Tel Aviv and Cairo led to an understanding regarding the deployment of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula.
      The talks are being held at the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing; several Israeli officials recently objected to the deployment of more Egyptian soldiers in Sinai as such deployment violates the Camp David Peace Agreement between the two countries.

      But a number of Israeli officials said that all movements and deployment of Egyptian forces in Sinai, to counter armed groups, were coordinated with Tel Aviv.

      The Egyptian source told Maan that Egyptian and Israeli security officials held more than six meetings over the period of three consecutive days.

      Israel security and political officials said that despite the Israeli concerns regarding the deployment, Israel understands the Egyptian position as it is part of what Tel Aviv called war of terror.

      The Egyptian officials told their Israeli counterparts that the situation in Egypt is very bad, amidst the rise of armed extremist groups and their attacks against Egyptian military personnel.

      Israel refrained from practicing pressure on Egypt to remove its addition forces that were deployed in Sinai, and only expressed “concerns regarding this deployment”.

      The Egyptian security source told Maan that Egypt might deploy more soldiers in Sinai as part of its efforts to eradicate armed groups, especially since Sinai is a large area that requires more deployment and more military operations.

      Muslim Brotherhood led Egyptian cooperation with Israel. Kind of heartwarming, no?

      • Fred Plester August 26, 2012, 1:57 AM

        The alternative would be for the Muslim Brotherhood to swallow the murder of Muslims as they sat down together to break their fast. And for Israel to confront an extremely powerful army with no actual hostile intent towards Israel.

        It happened in Ireland, eventually. It can happen in the Middle East, too.

  • Rehmat August 25, 2012, 8:35 PM

    Any political aware person knows that the Zionist regime is a habitual whino. Israeli leaders are naive not to know that Dr. Morsi is not Dr. Ahmadinejad. Morsi’s so-called “coup” against the pro-US, pro-Israel military junta was nothing but a game of ‘musical chairs’.

    David Ignatius, writing in the Washington Post (August 12, 2012) said that the US has confidence in the the installation of new defense minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has had extensive contacts with Washington. The Time of Israel has reported that Israel too has confidence in al-Sisi as “he is well acquainted with Israel’s security elites – from defense ministry policy director Amos Gilad to Netanyahu’s special envoy Yitzhak Molcho – and of course Israel’s defense minister Gen. Ehud Barak“.


  • OperationRedPill August 26, 2012, 2:06 AM

    Israel has fundamental sovereign interests. These do not include violating numerous aspects of the international legal lexicon. Stop digging the well, Israel.

    Abide by the Geneva Conventions (point blank); we will free Jonathon Pollard (maybe) when you free you Mordechai Vanunu (definitely — don’t even think otherwise about it!)

    The necessity of calm is this: the young generation doesn’t want to live in the old generation’s infantile nightmare. Grow up.

  • HaHa August 26, 2012, 2:22 PM

    The Israelis just went into Sinai & killed an Egyptian with a drone strike. Those tanks are just as easy a target.

    • Richard Silverstein August 26, 2012, 6:21 PM

      If you want a war with Egypt they are an easy target. If not, not so much. But if you want to beat the crap out of Egypt just to prove how tough you are a la Michael Ledeen, then it should be a piece of cake. Go to it big shot.

  • zkharya October 22, 2012, 5:00 AM

    Did you factor into your analysis of Morsi this yet? Or is this ‘hasbara’ too?


    • Richard Silverstein October 22, 2012, 9:44 PM

      You expect me to take seriously an Israeli publication who’s published a blog post saying I’m little short of an imbecile? Find a more credible source & keep that shmatteh out of my comment threads.

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