A report in The New York Times has focused attention on the role of Israeli air strikes in the Egyptian Sinai against ISIS terrorist targets. The significance of these strikes, supposedly 100 in the past two years, is that they have been carried out with Egypt’s approval and at their request. Certainly they could not have been carried out without the approval and agreement of the Government of Pres. Al-Sisi.
Such an agreement will not be popular with the so-called “street” in Egypt, since the ordinary people in Egypt are very anti-Israel, as they have been brainwashed to be for so many years. But, the fact is that the Egyptian military have been unable to stop the constant attacks by the ISIS extremists that have killed hundreds of Egyptian police and military as well as civilians despite constant counter-attacks. The fact is that the Egyptian military lack the intelligence and aerial capability to deal a significant blow to the Islamist enemy. As well as helping Egypt, it is in Israel’s own interests to defeat the ISIS extremists on its own borders.
This kind of close cooperation between Israel and a leading Arab State could represent a turning point in the relations between the two sides. The cold peace that has existed between Egypt and Israel for many years is not likely to vanish over-night. But, it is likely that Al-Sisi will be re-elected President of Egypt in the upcoming elections, and that in time a portion at least of the Egyptian people, and especially the Christian Copts (10% of the population) that have been under attack for years by the Islamists, will be happy with this outcome.
It is an irony that Israel that captured the Sinai in the 1967 Six-Day War and then gave it back to Egypt in exchange for the peace treaty in 1969, is now helping Egypt maintain control of that territory. Saudi Arabia and other Arab States will be watching this development closely. They see that Israel is actually no threat to them, to the continuation of their regimes. It is both the Sunni and Shia extremists of ISIS and Iran respectively that are the real threats to their existence. Reality has a strange way of making former enemies into political bedfellows.