The Changing Face of Sinai

With a new regime governing Egypt, the lawless Sinai Peninsula has become a breeding ground for Israel's enemies and their proxies. After more than thirty years of relative quiet on the border, Israel has a new potential threat to manage
The Changing Face of Sinai

Iran seldom misses an opportunity to exploit the weaknesses of its adversaries. As the power vacuum in Egypt may result in political and military changes that pose a threat to Israel, it is imperative for the Jewish state to re-evaluate and re-gentrify its strategy, and accordingly, re-allocate resources to its southwestern border.

With the Obama administration welcoming the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the post-Mubarak Egyptian government, Iran's proxy operations will flourish in the Sinai Peninsula – the new safe haven for global jihad – which is becoming an integral part of Iran’s expanding terror network and infrastructure.

Akin to its cultivation of ties with Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran is determined to increase its influence wherever it can. It appears that Iran has successfully seized the opportunity in Egypt and Sinai.

The West’s miscalculation of Egypt's strategic trajectory (as with Turkey’s) has resulted in the Sinai Peninsula becoming a front for Iranian terrorist activity. In addition, as the rift between the Egyptian civilian government and the military closes, Iran will have a fertile breeding ground to further its interests and intensify its operations.

Since the toppling of Mubarak's regime, the Egyptian military has permitted events to occur that can only lead one to conclude that Egypt is seeking to strengthen ties with Israel's enemies, rather than maintaining strategic cooperation with Israel.

Several recent indicators forecast the course of Egypt's future relations with Israel. Such events include the allowance of Iranian naval ships to pass through the Suez Canal, the opening of the border with Gaza, the hostile response to the terrorist attack on Israel in August of last year, and the demand of the Egyptian generals and political parties to alter or annul Egypt's peace treaty with Israel.

One event in particular is extremely disconcerting: during the August terror attack on Route 12, terror operatives fired from Egyptian military positions with no interference from the Egyptian military. Therefore, it is also reasonable to assume that the Egyptian military provided support during the terror operation, manifesting the extent to which the Egyptian leadership's disposition towards Israel is rapidly becoming more hostile.

In considering the numerous events that have transpired in Egypt, Iran has identified Sinai as an optimal location for developing a terror infrastructure to launch attacks on Israel.

The influx of terrorists from global jihad elements in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia; the emergence of Islamism among the local Bedouin population; and Egypt's inertia in combating anti-Israel terror operatives in Sinai all provide an operational and logistical framework through which Iran can train terrorists, smuggle armaments into Gaza, and gain influence over a global jihad movement in search of its path.

Moreover, the investigation on the attempt to blow up an Israeli vessel in the Suez Canal revealed that the two operatives involved in the attack received their orders from Iranian agents. Although this attack was thwarted, the probability that subsequent attacks will be carried out will only increase in the wake of Egypt's regime change and deteriorating relations with Israel.  

In principle, Egypt must be aware that it will pay the highest of prices if it permits hostile actions against Israel from within its borders. In practice, no hostile action emanating from within Egyptian borders can be tolerated.