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Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Israeli Return to Sinai?

The situation in Egypt does not look dire at this moment, but it does look very serious.  Given the speed with which events can move, the situation could change dramatically for the worse in hours or days.

Pursuant to the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, Israel withdrew from the Sinai peninsula which it had captured in 1967.  The Sinai provided a strategic depth which allowed Israel to withstand the surprise Egyptian attack in 1973. 

A key element of the peace treaty was restrictions on the quantity and quality of Egyptian troops and weaponry in Sinai, so that Israel did not need to worry about the well-equipped and well-trained Egyptian army sitting on its border.  Other aspects included a right of free passage through the Suez canal and the waterways south of Israel and east of the Sinai such as the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba.  It was a blockade of these waterways by Eqypt which sparked the 1967 war.

Unfortunately, while the peace treaty contemplated a normalization of civilian relations between the countries, such normalization never took place on the Egyptian side.  Egyptian society, particularly the large segment represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, still does not accept Israel and largely boycotts Israel in civilian affairs.  Agitation against Israel and Jews is common in Egypt.

If the Mubarek government falls, as happened quickly to the government in Tunisia, the Israelis rightly would be worried about the impact on the peace treaty.  If an Islamist government were to take hold in Egypt, there is no telling how the situation in the Sinai could deteriorate.  The role of the Egyptian military as a political force in maintaining the military aspects of the peace treaty would be paramount.

While we are not there yet, I can see scenarios by which a new government in Egypt disavowed the peace treaty either explicitly or by actions.  If Egypt moved forces into the Sinai beyond that permitted by the peace treaty or breached the other covenants such as free passage through the Suez canal, Israel would have a hard choice of moving back into Sinai or allowing the establishment of yet another hostile front on its borders, adding to the Hezbollah controlled Lebanon, the Hamas controlled Gaza, and Syria.

Eqypt is not Tunisia.  The effects of Mubarek falling without a successor willing to honor its commitments under the peace treaty with Israel could spark a war.

Update:  There is a another distabilizing possibility, that the new Egyptian government doesn't do anything that violates the peace treaty itself, but ceases trying to stem the flow of weapons into Gaza from Egyptian territory.

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  1. Oh well. Not to be cavalier about it, but it seems Israel is gonna pick up some land relatively cheap in the near future.

  2. El Baradei, the antisemitic former nuclear inspector who paved the way for Iran's nuclear ambitions, is returning to Egypt at this moment. He ran against Mubarak and was supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, the precursor to al-Quaida. His platform was the disavowal of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and the return to war status. If this happens will Israel go back into the Sinai...doubtful as the Obama administration would use such a move to cut off all aid and funding that Israel receives and can use it as a way to continue Obama's war against the Jewish State.However, a middle east war will occur within the year,and then once attacked Israel will have a right to defend itself, no matter what Obama and the UN think. Then they will go back into the Sinai, retake southern Lebanon. If necessary they will also enter Gaza once again. I doubt the Syrians are stupid enough to directly challenge Israel unless they think as in 1973 that they have such an upperhand.

    What no one is talking about is how this is the puppet theater all orchestrated by Iran. The question becomes is Obama just so completely inept or does he really not care and was hoping for these events to occur. He certainly helped pave some of the way in the past few years with his apologies and overt US impotence.Quite frankly US weakness is all it takes for the world to explode and for evil elements to take advantage of the situation.

    BTW here is my blog on the situation and Israel's precarious military choices http://libertysspirit.blogspot.com/2011/01/obama-islamists-and-new-middle-east.html

  3. If Egypt started lobbing shells at Israel, I would support bombing the Aswan dam.

  4. if this happens i guess we'll find out just how well the Merkava w*rks out when pitted against the M1A1....

    the IDF should move at the first sign of trouble, if there is any.


  5. It was inevitable that Egypt would fall to Islamists. Mubarak is getting old and probably has only a few more years left to live...a fact that the Egyptian military is keenly aware of.

    I suspect that one of the first things that ElBaradai will do is to clandestinely open up the shipment of arms to Hamas. The subsequent murderous attacks against Israeli civilians will force Israel to respond militarily. Which will provide ElBaradai--a clear enemy of both Israel and the West--an excuse to take steps such as close off the Suez and openly assist Hamas. All with the usual pro-Hamas propaganda provided by the MSM.

  6. Please don't forget that the US and other nations maintain a peacekeeping force in the Sinai, the MNFO. It's a token force, and not enough to stop any serious Egyptian incursion into the designated zones, but even the most radical government we might see take over would hesitate to take on the US Army in any numbers, just to get a crack at the Israelis.