The US State Department urged Egypt yesterday to be transparent over its security deployments in the Sinai, amid fears in Israel over the continued military build up in the Peninsula.
Speaking at a daily-press conference yesterday, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said that the US fully supports Egypt’s military campaign to root out terrorism, but added that coordination with Israel must continue in line with peace treaty between the two countries.
“We have encouraged that lines of communication stay open, in keeping with peace treaty obligations, and that they make full use of the mechanisms that are available for transparency, for confidence building, and we will continue to do so,” she said.
Jerusalem has expressed concern that Cairo failed to inform Israel that it had transferred heavy military equipment to the Sinai as part of its campaign against terrorist groups operating there. Yesterday morning, Maariv reported that Israel had sent a message to Egypt, via the White House, insisting that they withdraw their tanks from the Peninsula – as they were in violation of the peace treaty between the two countries.
Nuland, however, avoided confirming whether or not the US had acted as a go-between in the increasingly tense situation. “Well, without getting into our private diplomacy with one country or the other, I would make the general point that as the Egyptians work hard now to defeat terror and turn back other security threats in the Sinai, we’ve been supportive of those efforts,” Nuland said.
“We have encouraged them in those efforts, not only to enhance security in Egypt but also to enhance security for neighbours, security in the region… Our understanding of the Egyptian security posture is that they are enhancing their posture to deal with security threats in Sinai. That’s obviously of security interest with regard to Egypt, but also with regard to neighbours. But as has been longstanding practice, there needs to be transparency, there needs to be confidence with neighbours,” she added.
Egypt has been mobilising extra forces in the Sinai in an attempt to crackdown on terrorist operating in the Peninsula, after gunmen killed 16 Egyptian border guards in a 5 August attack at the Egypt-Gaza-Israel border.