The U.S. Should Be Helping Egypt Fight Terror, Not Punishing It

Nov. 21 2014

The U.S. has withheld military aid from Egypt this year, in part as a response to repressive measures taken against terrorist groups in the Sinai. While the U.S. is right to be concerned about human rights in Egypt, argue David Schenker and Eric Trager, American interests would be best served by helping and not hindering Egypt in its war on terror:

[S]ecurity—not democracy—is the top priority for a critical mass of Egyptians, who view their military’s Sinai campaign as vital for defeating domestic terrorism and avoiding the chaotic regional trend. Given the deadly nature of the threats Egyptians face, Western condemnation of the military’s tactics in Sinai will invariably be interpreted as hostile. For this reason, if the U.S. wants Egypt to fight terrorists in Sinai with greater consideration for human rights—and, more importantly, with greater effectiveness—Washington should act as a partner, rather than a sideline player.

At a minimum, a real partnership would necessitate the administration taking steps to ensure that counterterrorism-related military materiel is provided to Egypt without undue delay. The interminable postponement this year of the delivery of 10 Apache helicopters not only frustrated Cairo and stressed the bilateral relationship; it undermined the Sinai counterterrorism campaign. Withholding this type of critical equipment serves neither Egyptian nor Israeli nor U.S. regional interests. Beyond the timely supply of weapons systems and ammunition, the U.S. could provide the Egyptian military with technical assistance—and perhaps disclose operational intelligence for targeting—to help minimize collateral damage in the Sinai.

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Read more at Washington Institute

More about: Egypt, Gaza, Muslim Brotherhood, Sinai Peninsula, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism