Security Vacuum in the Sinai: Op-Ed by Zack Gold (F09) & Benedetta Berti (F07, F11)

The National Interest

On August 5, just after sundown, an unidentified group of assailants attacked an Egyptian security outpost near the Egyptian-Israeli border south of Gaza. The attackers surprised the Egyptian soldiers as they prepared to break their Ramadan fast, ruthlessly killing sixteen guards and soldiers and wounding several others.

The attackers then stole two Egyptian military vehicles, loaded one with explosives and took off for the border crossing linking Egypt, Israel and the Gaza Strip (known as Kerem Abu Salem to Egyptians and Kerem Shalom to Israelis). The explosive-laden vehicle crashed at the border and—perhaps to punch through the barrier—exploded. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) engaged the second vehicle, disabling it and killing its reportedly five or six occupants.

Securing the Sinai should be a priority for the postrevolutionary government in Cairo. Not only is the continuation of the status quo a direct national-security threat to Egypt, but cracking down on lawlessness also is an important step toward ensuring that the new government is perceived as competent and capable. Finally, the security vacuum in the Sinai risks igniting a confrontation with Israel, an outcome that both the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the newly elected president Mohamed Morsi should wish to avoid.

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