Tuesday’s World #2 – EGYPT
Unmarked Israeli warplanes and helicopters have carried out dozens of covert attacks against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups inside the Egyptian Sinai in recent years, said two former senior U.S. officials.The airstrikes by Israeli planes are conducted with the support of President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, who has led an often brutal campaign inside Egypt to wipe out the Islamist militant groups but has struggled to defeat them.In November, the Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State launched a brazen attack in which nearly 40 gunmen stormed the al-Rawdah mosque in Egypt’s sparsely populated Sinai, killing more than 300 worshipers.The terrorist group, which consists of more than 1,000 members, first came to widespread public attention for its suspected role in the downing of a Russian airliner in 2015, in which 224 people were killed. Egypt’s military has struggled for years to destroy the group, which briefly seized control of the northern Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid and has launched dozens of attacks on soldiers, police and Coptic Christian churches.
Egypt collaboration “is the most dramatic evidence yet of a quiet reconfiguration of the politics of the region,” the New York Times said, in which shared concerns over Islamic State, Iran and Islamic extremism “have quietly brought the leaders of several Arab states into growing alignment with Israel — even as their officials and news media continue to vilify the Jewish state in public.”].Israeli security officials say that their regional security concerns increasingly align with those of the Persian Gulf states. In 2016, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Israeli officials were secretly meeting with counterparts from the gulf in “closed rooms” united against a common “bad guy” — Iran.A former U.S. official, who was granted anonymity to discuss the sensitive alliance, said, “The public perception of those two countries and how they relate is not in sync with how they work together privately on counterterrorism.”Another former U.S. official said the cooperation underscores how ineffective the Egyptians have been in combating militants on their own soil.