Egypt’s Looming Economic Crisis, and Why It Should Worry Israel

During the past few months, the value of the Egyptian pound has plummeted, while Cairo struggles to impose austerity measures to prevent a fiscal catastrophe. Eran Lerman argues that further economic deterioration in the most populous Arab country could threaten the Jewish state:

[T]he continued stability of the political order in Egypt is among Israel’s most important national interests, if only because the alternative—the collapse of governance in a nation of 105 million on our border and possibly a full or partial takeover by radical totalitarian Islamists in the Sinai Peninsula and/or Egypt—would itself constitute a grave danger to Israel’s national security.

Moreover, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s regime—despite points of friction from time to time—has positioned itself as a constructive actor when it comes to Arab-Israeli normalization, joining the Negev Forum (alongside the U.S., Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco) and serving through its intelligence service as an effective go-between with Hamas on a range of issues, including the fate of Israelis and bodies held in Gaza. Egypt played a role in the Aqaba emergency meeting [last month to help reduce terrorism from the West Bank], and will host the next round.

While it is true that Cairo’s position on the Palestinian question remains unchanged, and its posture toward Israel in UN institutions remains quite hostile, cooperation in other aspects of the relationship, including the war on terror in Sinai, is closer than ever. The regime now claims to have achieved a decisive outcome in the struggle against the “Sinai Province” of Islamic State—to some extent, as it is willing to admit in private, with Israel’s help.

As Lerman goes on to explain, Jerusalem can assist Cairo in finding a way out of its current predicament. And, although the causes of Egypt’s economic woes are unlikely to dissipate anytime soon, there are a few reasons for hope.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Egypt, Israeli Security


Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria