Should We Be Up in Arms over Egypt's Buildup?

(Ha'aretz) Amnon Barzilai - As defense officials talk of warming ties with Egypt, some are concerned that Egypt will take advantage of Israel's dependence on its assistance in the fight against terrorism to pressure the U.S. into supplying it with sophisticated weapons systems. "We have a problem today," says a senior defense official, "but on the eve of disengagement we don't want to create opposition, because we have an interest in having public opinion support peace with Egypt." In Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies' annual Middle East Strategic Balance, Brigadier General (res.) Shlomo Brom and researcher Yiftah Shapir state that since the 1980s the gap in the quality of the aerial and ground platforms of the Egyptian and Israeli armies has narrowed substantially. However, in assessing Egypt's intentions, the Israeli intelligence community believes that, despite the cold peace and blatant incidences of anti-Semitism, Egypt has no intention to go on the offensive. Nevertheless, Brom and Shapir say it is impossible to completely rule out a scenario of military confrontation between Israel and Egypt in the long term, especially if an Iran-style Islamic revolution takes place in Egypt.

2005-01-17 00:00:00

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