A report in the Guardian says that the UK government will provide military advice to Egypt’s new government, to help re-establish the rule of law in the violent Sinai region bordering Israel.
The Sinai border has been the launching pad for three deadly attacks by armed extremists on Israel since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak last year. The latest incident last Friday resulted in the killing of Israeli Cpl. Netanel Yahalomi at the hands of a jihadist group calling itself Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. New Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi has pledged to quell the unrest. But although Israel has agreed to a temporary increase in Egyptian military presence in the Sinai Peninsula, the ongoing violence has led to fears in the West over the durability of the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace agreement.
The Guardian reports that the UK’s most senior military figure, Sir David Richards will lead the efforts, which will include a stabilisation team being sent to Egypt. This will reportedly consist of field experts from the Department for International Development, which will advise on a number of issues relating to Sinai, including weaning Bedouin tribes off smuggling. The disaffection of the Sinai Bedouin with the central Egyptian authorities is one of the causes of instability in the area.
Morsi meanwhile addressed the UN General Assembly yesterday. He called the violence in Syria a ‘catastrophe’ and condemned Israeli settlements while calling for Palestinian independence. He also outlined his hopes for the future of modern Egypt, ‘based on rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights.’