It is important for analysts to be absolutely accurate in their deliberations and data if they are to retain any credibility. Likewise, it is important for the analysis itself not to be slanted to favour one group or another. I say this because my analysis suggests that Israel may exploit the state of confusion in the region and invade Sinai in order to annex the territory that it has occupied once before. That may upset some people but it has to be said.
Israeli may be motivated to do this in order to counter the result of the 1973 October War, when Egyptian forces pushed the Israel Defence Forces back from the Suez Canal in a manoeuvre which the Arabs regard as a great military victory. Retaking Sinai would erase that defeat from Israel’s collective memory.
Annexation may also be considered so that the Israelis can displace the Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip into Sinai. That would relieve Israel of the burden of defending itself against the resistance groups and enjoy the full bounties of the Holy Land.
They are the possible reasons for annexation, but why would Israel be thinking about it at this time?
During the October War, Israel faced two united armies that were highly trained and well armed, led by seasoned leaders of economically strong and independent countries in Syria and Egypt. The picture is very different today.
Syria is no longer a stable country; it has been destroyed and its people are divided, just as Israel planned. The situation is such that Syria does not pose a threat to any other country, least of all Israel.
As far as Egypt is concerned, its army is engaged in hostilities against its own citizens in Sinai under the pretext of fighting terrorism. This has gained them little except the hatred of a very tribal society; the people are unlikely to help the army should Israel decide to invade and annex the peninsula. Other army units are busy across Egypt suppressing citizens’ protests against the coup and in favour of democracy. The army as a whole would need at least a month to regroup and deploy to Sinai to face an Israeli attack. This would leave the field open to opposition groups who the coup authorities fear more than the Israelis.
Some may say that Israel would not attack the military regime which has ousted Egypt’s elected Islamist government and which Israel has supported since the coup. However, it is well known that strategies are subject to change according to national interests, so if it is in Israel’s best interests to move into Sinai now, regardless of the support it has given the coup regime it will not hesitate to do so. The government in Cairo would be left on its own to fight on two fronts: against Israel and against its own people opposed to the military regime.
There is much evidence for this scenario, the most recent of which is the US government’s decision to stop military aid to Egypt, including tanks, Apache helicopters and F-16 fighters, all of which are combat weapons that could most effectively be used against Israel. The US will continue to supply crow dispersal equipment and weapons to help the coup regime to combat the internal opposition. It is clear that the US decision has less to do with stopping the brutal suppression of democracy than the protection of Israel. Egypt will be unable to defend itself against any Israeli invasion.
The enemy of Egypt is not on the home front and its soldiers need to understand this. Failure to wake up to this fact could see Egyptian civilisation pass into history as others have disappeared before it.
The author is a retired Major General of the Egyptian army. He is now a strategic consultant and engineer in security systems. This article is a translation of the Arabic text which appeared on sahrar.com, on 11 October 2013
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.