New Egypt Troop Presence in Sinai a Gamble for Israel

(Los Angeles Times) Edmund Sanders - The aftermath of the "Arab Spring" is forcing Israel to gamble with what had long been one of the foundations of its security: a demilitarized Sinai peninsula. This week, as many as 1,500 more Egyptian troops poured into the region with armored vehicles and a limited number of tanks amid a crackdown on Islamist radical groups after a cross-border attack this month left eight Israelis dead. But allowing an increased Egyptian military presence along the border carries significant risk for Israel. The military-led council that replaced Mubarak is facing strong public pressure to take a harder stance against Israel, which remains deeply unpopular in Egypt. A senior Israeli Defense Ministry official said Israel has agreed since January to permit Egypt to deploy "several thousand" soldiers along the border. However, he said, Israel so far has been unimpressed with the Egyptian army's results. "They can't or won't clamp down to stop the weapons flow," he said, and in recent months Libyan-made shoulder-launched missiles and anti-tank missiles have been smuggled through Sinai into Gaza. He said Egypt has the manpower to accomplish the job, if it has the will. The risk for Israel, analysts say, is in opening a door that will be difficult to close again. Once Egyptian soldiers are deployed in the Sinai in large numbers, can Israel be assured that they will leave after the threat is controlled?

2011-09-01 00:00:00

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