Cairo regime change could make IDF boost forces

Israel concerned new gov't in Egypt would allow arms flow to Gaza, cut military dialogue; Muslim Brotherhood previously threatens peace treaty.

January 30, 2011 05:28
2 minute read.
IDF troops standing by a tank on Gaza border

IDF troops with tank on Gaza border 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

Regime change in Egypt would force the IDF to reallocate resources and possibly increase its strength in the South, senior defense officials warned on Saturday.

Israel was closely following the demonstrations in Egypt and teams were assembled at Southern Command headquarters in Beersheba as well as at the Kirya military headquarters and Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv to discuss possible scenarios and outcomes.

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The 1979 peace treaty with Egypt has allowed the army to focus most of its forces and procurement efforts on the northern front – Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

“If a hostile regime takes over in Egypt, the IDF will need to restructure itself and would be pushed to the limit in its ability to deploy adequate resources on the various fronts,” one defense official said.

Israeli concerns regarding Egypt relate to several issues but focus on the long-term strategic effect Mubarak’s downfall would have on the country and the Muslim Brotherhood’s potential to take over the country. The Brotherhood has said that one of the first things it would do would be to rip up the peace treaty.

Click here for full Jpost coverage of unrest in Egypt

Israel is also concerned about the effect a regime change would have on Egypt’s border with Gaza, where security forces have recently been working more aggressively to stop arms smuggling to Hamas. While weaponry and explosives have still made their way to the Strip, the security forces have nonetheless been effective in curbing the flow.

“A change in power could change what happens on the border as well,” a senior defense official said.

On Saturday night, Channel 1 reported gunfire near the border with Gaza coming from Rafah.

Israeli defense sources confirmed that the IDF was not currently built to counter a military threat from Egypt and would have to restructure its divisions and the air force to effectively meet the challenge.

Defense officials said there was concern that a new regime in Egypt would also cancel the joint dialogue that has dealt with key issues such as smuggling under the Philadelphi Corridor between Sinai and Gaza.

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