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‘First we take Cairo – then we take Jerusalem!’

Until now, Sinai has been a backyard for ongoing skirmishes between the Jihadists and the al Sisi regime but it has now exploded into a major battlefield.

Islamic State now poses a real and present danger to Israel's southern flank of Egyptian controlled Sinai. The IDF has reacted by stepping up its alert along the Sinai border that includes closing Highway 12, which runs along the frontier. In 2011, Jihadists crossed the border in a daring raid that killed eight Israelis. The terrorists have also rocketed Israel's Red Sea port of Eilat. But the ferocity of the IS combined operation against numerous Egyptian military targets signal a sharp escalation and threat, not only to Cairo but also Jerusalem.

The official Egyptian death toll was put at seventeen, but it was probably much higher.

For several years, Jihadists in Sinai have backed the goal of the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt proper to take control of the country and impose Sharia law. Meanwhile under the radar in Sinai, Islamic State has moved in to coopt the various Jihadi groups - we have just seen the result. The official Egyptian death toll was put at seventeen, but it was probably much higher. The Egyptians also say they killed 100 terrorists and have regained full control of Sinai. But make no mistake - the IS operation hit multiple targets with determined fighters armed with sophisticated anti-tank and aircraft weaponry. It had all the hallmarks of its military success in Syria and Iraq.


President al Sisi

What's happened is that IS has coopted a local Jihadist organization called Ansar Bait al Maqdis, recruited local Bedouin tribesmen, and infiltrated many foreign volunteers all over from Somalia to Britain. Their objective is to escalate the offensive against President al Sisi's army in Sinai in order to weaken the regime inside Egypt proper and precipitate the takeover by the Islamic Brotherhood, another fanatical Islamist organization that seeks to impose Sharia religious law. For the time being IS designates its Sinai theatre as the 'Sinai Branch of the Caliphate'.


General al Sisi must take off the gloves to prevent the domino effect from kicking in. If Sinai falls, Cairo could follow.

Until now, Sinai has been a backyard for ongoing skirmishes between the Jihadists and the al Sisi regime, but it has now exploded into a major battlefield. For his part, General al Sisi must take off the gloves to prevent the domino effect from kicking in. If Sinai falls, Cairo could follow. In the past, al Sisi conducted punitive retaliatory strikes against the Jihadists in Sinai, but now it is apparent he underestimated the multiplier effect of IS. There is no other explanation for why the Egyptian Army was caught napping.


Gen. al Sisi was already in the midst of a new terror surge in the Egyptian capital after suspected Muslim Brotherhood terrorists blew his chief prosecutor to smithereens with a huge car bomb. The official had just succeeded in winning the death penalty for former ousted president Mohammed Morsi, who actually won a democratic election. Liberals in the West, particularly in Washington, still fail to realize that in the Middle East there is something worse than a democratically elected government; that is a government that is elected to office and then enforces a barbaric regime of suppression and torture against its own people. Not only in Egypt, but Hamas in Gaza and the Ayatollahs in Tehran. It is the 'one vote but only one time' syndrome. Is it necessary to recall what transpired with the fall of the Weimar Republic in Germany and the democratically elected Nazis rise to power?


'First we take Cairo - then we take Jerusalem!'

Singer Leonard Cohen, who popularized the lyrics "First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin" (credit: Rama - Wikimedia Commons)

Israel is not sitting passively by and watching Islamic State move ominously into Sinai. There is a silent alliance between Cairo and Jerusalem to fight Islamic State and the Jihadist Hamas. The IDF reportedly supplies intelligence to the Egyptian army but far more than that - under the terms of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, the Sinai Peninsula is demilitarized and Cairo is restricted in its deployment of military forces in this territory. However, Jerusalem has been permitting Cairo to dispatch military forces far above the demilitarization clause of the peace treaty. For the first time this week, Israel permitted Egyptian F-16 fighters to shell IS forces in Sinai. Israel is well aware that if Cairo falls to the Jihadists, Jerusalem will be next in their crosshairs.


If the Egyptian army proves incapable of suppressing the IS threat in Sinai, which also poses a danger to Israel, would the Jewish state openly or surreptitiously join the fray?

On this score, Hamas, which rules Gaza, is also part of the picture. Israel has accused Hamas of working hand in glove with IS in Sinai. IDF General Yoav Mordechai has accused Hamas of sending senior operatives into Sinai to train the terrorists.


If the Egyptian army proves incapable of suppressing the IS threat in Sinai, which also poses a danger to Israel, would the Jewish state openly or surreptitiously join the fray? Is this out of the question, who can say? Just look at the tectonic shift of the U.S. in its determined bid to turn the Jihadist regime of Iran into a newfound friend, at the expense of America's allies in the region. The Sykes-Picot Treaty colluded by Britain and France in 1916 has gone out the window, no one can predict what will follow.


 



 

David Essing

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