What the Jihadist attack in Sinai tells us about the new Egypt

This past Sunday, heavily armed jihadis stormed an Egyptian army outpost, killed 16 Egyptian solders, and headed toward the Israeli border. There, the Israeli army stopped them.

Israel had advance intelligence of the attack. It warned Israelis to leave Sinai, and its heightened alert along the border enabled it to stop the terrorists with no Israeli casualties.

Israel shared some of its intelligence about the danger with the Egyptian army. However, as Evelyn Gordon notes, Egypt apparently ignored the information. There is no indication that it beefed up security along the border or placed its soldiers on heightened alert.

The Muslim Brotherhood has blamed the attack on Israel, claiming that it was an attempt to undermine Egyptian President Morsi, who himself is part of the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has also seized on the attacks to challenge aspects of Egypt’s agreement with “the Zionist entity” that pertain to the number of Egyptian troops stationed in the Sinai.

Gordon draws two lessons from these events. First, “the new Egypt is so unwilling to cooperate with Israel that it wouldn’t even act on Israeli intelligence about a threat to its own security.” Second, Israel must not grant permission for Egypt to send additional troops to the Sinai (such permission is required by treaty):

Given the Morsi government’s attitude to date, those troops won’t cooperate with Israel; they’ll at best stand idly by whenever the jihadis attack Israeli targets, and at worst may target Israel themselves. Israel already has enough problems in Sinai; it doesn’t need even more Egyptian troops standing around and doing nothing to solve them. That just means more soldiers who could get caught in the cross-fire – thereby increasing the risk of an Israeli-Egyptian war.

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