Analysis: How would Mubarak's successor affect the IDF?

Son of Mubarak, Gamal may take control if father falls ill.

July 20, 2010 05:27
2 minute read.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak looks green 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)


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The death of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could have immediate ramifications for the IDF. According to Israeli intelligence assessments, Mubarak’s most likely successor would be his son Gamal, who, while lacking his father’s military experience, is working to mobilize Egypt’s old guard.

Another potential successor is Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman, a familiar face in Israel and a key mediator in recent years between Jerusalem and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. An opponent to both could be the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohammed ElBaradei.

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Israel’s concern with regard to Mubarak’s health is twofold. While the Camp David peace accord of 1979 is believed to be understood by both countries to be of strategic importance, there is a growing radical Islamic threat in Egypt – led by the Muslim Brotherhood – that is working to change that.

Under the treaty, the Sinai Peninsula was demilitarized, meaning that under the current circumstances Israel would receive fair warning in the event of a ground attack, and would also have room to launch its own ground maneuvers in the event that it saw a war coming.

One scenario that the IDF is preparing for is that following a regime change in Egypt, the military there will begin training again in the Sinai. Although this would constitute a violation of the treaty, Israel would be wary of initiating a war with Egypt over training in the Sinai.

The Egyptian military, mainly due to the approximately $1.5 billion it receives annually from the US, is one of the most advanced and westernized conventional militaries in the Middle East. It has about half a million soldiers, around 500 aircraft and 3,000 tanks comprising 12 divisions.

This is of course a worst-case scenario. The more likely scenario is that Gamal Mubarak takes the reins from his father and succeeds in establishing his control over the country of 70 million.

Egypt’s strong ties with the US and its view of itself as the center of the Arab world, particularly in face of Iran’s nuclear program, are strong restraining factors. Egypt is genuinely concerned with the possibility of Iran gaining nuclear weapons and views it as a direct challenge to the Arab Sunni world, which it believes it leads.

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