The Obama administration is quietly reviewing the future of America's three-decade deployment to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, fearful the lightly equipped peacekeepers could be targets of escalating Islamic State-inspired violence. Options range from beefing up their protection or even pulling them out altogether, officials told The Associated Press.
The American forces have helped marshal peace in the peninsula since Egypt's 1979 historic peace treaty with Israel. Some 700 members of an Army battalion and logistics support unit are currently there. They mainly monitor and verify compliance, and have little offensive capability. Several other countries also provide personnel.
This is not a United Nations force. We organized it. To responsibly end a war.
It has been quietly doing its job. Notwithstanding fantasy rumors about it.
See the web site of the Multinational Force & Observers.
Jihadis are waging a war in Sinai against Egypt, aided by Hamas in Gaza. So there is danger.
Call me cynical, but I wonder if we are floating the option of removing our forces--thus killing the whole mission--to pressure Israel into staying quiet on the Iran nuclear deal that Israel opposes.
Or is it just natural to retreat from everywhere? That's possible, too.
UPDATE: Of course, if we are floating this to pressure Israel, there might be collateral damage in Egypt if al-Sissi sees this as evidence that he can't rely on us:
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, making his second visit to Moscow in three months, says he hopes for Russia's help in combating terrorism in the region.
Yeah, Assad might give al-Sissi an earful about loyalty:
Assad described Russia as "principled", while "the United States abandons its allies, abandons its friends."
He added: "This was never the case with Russia's policy, neither during the Soviet Union, nor during the time of Russia... Russia has never said that it supported President Such and Such and then decided to abandon him."
Not that I worry that Egypt could flip to Russia. Egypt is still reequipping their military after flipping from the Soviet Union to America after the Camp David Accords that led to our Sinai observation force to keep the peace.
But Egypt certainly has reason to hedge their bets. And Russia would love to improve their position in the eastern Mediterranean. Why expend so much effort to take Crimea from Ukraine if not to project power south?