Egypt increases troops in Sinai to fight insurgents, talk is more will be deployed

Zeinab El Gundy, Monday 29 Aug 2011

Media reports that Egypt sent an additional 1500 soldiers to Sinai to fight Islamist insurgents, with Israel's permission, agreeing that the rise in attacks there merits more troops

Egypt troops in Northern Sinai
Egypt army troops in Northern Sinai (Photo: Reuters)

The Pan-Arab Al Hayat daily newspaper reported that Egypt has deployed 1500 extra soldiers to Sinai - with Israel's - approval to fight extremism in zones “B” and “C.”

Negotiations are ongoing between Egypt and Israel to increase the number of troops in Sinai, according to the newspaper. An anonymous source close to Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces also told the national Al Masry Al Youm daily newspaper that "Egypt is currently studying to amend some articles in the Camp David accords," concerning the security arragements and existence of troops in the Sinai Peninsula.

Former Egyptian ambassador to Tel Aviv, Mohamed Bassiouny, told Al Hayat that the Camp David Accords stipulate that “Any party can amend the security arrangement as long as the other party is in agreement.”

Conflicting reports about the increase of Egyptian security forces and the army in Sinai have surfaced in the past weeks.

Recent events have demonstrated the need for increased security in Sinai. Gas pipelines have been attacked, drastically affecting the flow into Jordan and Israel. But more dangerous than that are the attack on Al Arish police station (on the Egyptian side) and the attack on Israeilis that followed in Eilat (border town). The Israeli side, trying to track down the perpetrators, killed Egyptian officers and soldiers in the cross-fire between Israeli forces and militants. What ensued is a diplomatic crisis that still needs amelioration.

According to the Camp David Accords only civil police forces armed with light weapons along with multinational observers are permissible in zone “C,” except in the Rafah region. In zone “B” (mid-Sinai) Egypt can deploy a maximum of four battalions equipped with light weapons to assist the civil police forces.

After the Egyptian officers and soldiers were killed by the Israeli fire, many political parties and potential presidential candidates have repeatedly called to amend the Camp David Accords to allow for more armed forces in zones “B” and “C.” 

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