Egypt Is Expanding Its Military Capabilities. Should Israel Be Worried?

Dec. 30 2016

Shortly after being appointed defense minister by Egypt’s then-president Mohammed Morsi, Mohammed Abdel Fattah el-Sisi launched a large-scale rearmament program, which included the purchase of submarines from Germany and the implementation of previous arms deals with the U.S. After overthrowing Morsi in a coup, Sisi has continued to rearm, striking deals to procure helicopters, ships, aircraft, and more from France and Russia with the financial assistance of the Gulf states. Yet, note Yiftah S. Shapir and Kashish Parpiani, Egypt hardly needs such arms. It is already well-supplied by the U.S., and its major threats come from insurgents in the Sinai and guerrillas in Libya and Sudan, all of whom can be combatted without so extensive an arsenal. Shapir and Parpiani suggest an alternative explanation:

[T]he large arms acquisitions should be seen in the broader context of Sisi’s doctrine and vision for Egypt, in place from the moment he assumed power. This vision sees Egypt resuming its former position as a regional power in the Middle East, with the capacity to project its power throughout the eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Africa. . . .

The mere possibility of sending a landing force armed with battle tanks and accompanied by attack helicopters to [Yemen] or even as far away as Iran should give Egypt a strong say in the region. Egypt achieved this capability [through its recent purchases], with a great deal of financial aid from the Gulf states—Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait. Thus this process should be seen in part in the context of the Saudi-led coalition against Iran. . . .

In turn, there are major implications for Israel. For decades Egypt has maintained its obligations under the peace agreement with Israel. Furthermore, since Sisi took power in Egypt, the bilateral relations as well as the level of cooperation have improved considerably. Egypt’s current rearmament, then, should not worry Israel in the near term.

However, Egypt’s rearmament and its drive to become a regional power once again should be viewed by Jerusalem with caution. After all, the IDF is the only major military on Egypt’s borders, and Israel cannot avoid seeing any such rearmament as a potential threat. The acquisition of modern aircraft such as the Rafale and the MiG-29M will erode Israel’s qualitative edge in the air. . . . Of particular military concern for Israel are the [Russian-made] Antey-2500 surface-to-air missiles, which could affect the Israeli air force’s freedom of action even over Israeli air space, and the Moskit missiles on board the Molniya corvettes, which could affect the freedom of action of Israel’s navy.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Egypt, General Sisi, Israeli Security, Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs

Israel Has Survived Eight Years of Barack Obama’s False Friendship

Jan. 20 2017

In his speech justifying America’s decision to allow passage of the UN Security Council resolution declaring it a violation of international law for Jews to live in east Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Golan Heights, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “friends need to tell each other the hard truths.” John Podhoretz comments:

The decision in December by President Obama to abstain on the UN Security Council vote . . . marked the moment he crossed the finish line in the course he had charted from 2008 onward. The turn against Israel was complete. And, as he had when he began it, in farewell interview after farewell interview he characterized his assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in the Holy Land as an act of tough love. . . .

Which raises the key question: why [only] abstain [from the resolution]? If “hard truths” define friendship, then by all means they should have made the truths as hard as possible. If Barack Obama and John Kerry truly believe the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem is illicit, then they should have voted for the resolution. Instead, they took the coward’s way out. They opened the vault to the criminals and placed the jewels in their hands while wearing white gloves so there would be no residual trace of their fingerprints. The abstention was in some weird sense the mark of their bad conscience. They wanted something to happen while maintaining some historical deniability about their involvement in it.

In the eight years of the Obama presidency, war broke out twice between the Palestinians and the Israelis and nearly broke out a third time. In each case, the issue was not the West Bank, or east Jerusalem, or anything near. . . . The idea that the settlements and the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem are the main barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians was proved to be a lie right before Obama’s eyes in 2009, and 2012, and 2014. And he didn’t care to see it, because he is blinded by an antipathy he wishes to ascribe to Israeli action when honesty would compel him to find it in his own misguided leftist ideology—or within his own soul.

Israel has survived the horrendous blessing of Barack Obama’s false friendship.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Barack Obama, Israel & Zionism, John Kerry, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations