Egypt steps up anti-smuggling efforts, SF units deployed

Posted: May 30, 2010 by Jonathan Boyko in Egypt, Gaza, Hamas, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism

Facing tough mission. Egypt's Special Forces Egyptian military engages Sinai Bedouin tribes, who profit from smuggling arms, supplies and gunmen into Gaza. Egypt -  set on shutting the smuggling as means to fight Hamas – stepped up efforts in past year to halt Hamas’ supply lines, by first constructing an underground separation barrier and now openly fighting with Hamas’ suppliers:

The tribesmen have developed a lucrative trade as Al Qaeda’s main clandestine pipeline for moving weapons and fighters out of the Red Sea countries of Somalia, Yemen and Saudi Arabia and over to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. The Bedouin also run a regular supply line of arms and goods to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip through the Sinai tunnels.

Saturday, May 29, the Egyptians were forced to retire to El Arish in northern Sinai to recuperate, replenish depleted ammo stocks and collect reinforcements for the next round.
Most of the combat is raging around Wadi Omar, a dry valley in central Sinai bounded by 4,800-ft peaks.

The Egyptian units battering his mountain strongholds were thrown back by massive heavy machine fire on the few narrow paths climbing up the steep slopes and anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade fire on their APCs. The Bedouin fighters are also using their heavy machine guns to hit Egyptian helicopters.


THE ASSAULT – IN part – explains Egypt’s sudden willingness to confront the smuggling business, after ignoring the deeds for years. If the tribesmen indeed managed to amass arms capable of defending against Egyptian army – not the strongest, by any means – Egyptian Armed Forces indeed have a problem on their hands.

Hosni Mubarak likely understands the urgent need to engage and destroy the terror infrastructure in his backyard. Not only does it support Hamas and local terror groups, but could enhance ability of other movements, such as the radical Muslim Brotherhood, to occupy parts of the country or overthrow Mubarak’s regime. Obviously, Egypt’s job would be far easier if it would not allow the establishment of such infrastructure in the first place. Mubarak believed supplying Hamas with arms and cash could pressure Israel into concessions and eventually bring on the resolution of Israeli-Palestinian conflict within years. He was wrong, however. Israel did not give up and indeed maintained its blockade on Gaza. Frustrated, Hamas – and Gazans – turned to Egypt, at one point confronting Egyptian border guards and destroying parts of the security fence in Rafah.

Now Mubarak would have to turn back the clock. He is about to see it is not easy at all.


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