IDF intel chief: Iran intervening in Egyptian elections

Maj.-Gen. Kochavi says Islamic republic was involved in ‘Nakba Day’ and ‘Naksa Day’ border crossings.

Aviv Kochavi 311 (photo credit: IDF)
Aviv Kochavi 311
(photo credit: IDF)
Head of IDF Military Intelligence Maj.- Gen. Aviv Kochavi warned of Iranian intervention in Egyptian elections, speaking at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting on Tuesday.
“Iran is attempting to influence the political process in Egypt through efforts to connect with the Muslim Brotherhood,” Kochavi said.
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Kochavi also said that the Muslim Brotherhood is pressing for elections in Egypt to take place as soon as possible, because it is “the only group that’s ready for elections.”
“The international community is trying to delay the vote so more moderate groups can be better organized,” he explained.
In the meantime, the Egyptian army is losing control of the Sinai, according to Kochavi.
The IDF intelligence chief also reported that Iran will be able to produce a nuclear explosive within two years.
“Iran recovered from the last wave of sanctions, even though the international consensus surprised them,” Kochavi said.
He also emphasized Iranian influence throughout the region, including Turkey.
“We see closer relations between Iran and Turkey, which are focused mostly on trade, but also include military matters,” he said.
“Iran is taking advantage of the upheaval in the Middle East to deepen their infiltration into states and organizations in the region,” he added, saying that the Islamic republic is working in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq and Gaza.
“As Iran continues to work on its nuclear project, it works to transfer weapons and instill radical Islamic ideologies throughout the Middle East,” Kochavi explained.
In addition, “the potential for a cyberattack is growing, and will eventually be a greater threat than Iran’s other weapons.”
Kochavi also said that Iran was active in planning the “Nakba Day” and “Naksa Day” demonstrations and border crossings from Lebanon.
“Iran is making efforts to ensure that such events will continue,” he explained, “but they were disappointed that [the border crossings] were not more successful.”
“Iran and Hezbollah are actively helping the Syrian regime in oppressing protesters,” Kochavi said. “They are transferring means for dispersing demonstrations, knowledge and technical aid.”
“They are motivated to help due to their deep fear of the demonstrations’ implications, especially losing their partnership with the Syrians and a trickling of protests into their territory,” he explained.
Kochavi estimated that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime is stable, and will remain so as long as demonstrations do not reach Damascus and Aleppo.
“Assad understands that the way to end this situation is not only military, so he has turned to reform,” he explained, adding that the reforms include subsidies and job creation.
“Most of the Syrian army remains loyal to Assad, especially high-ranking Alawite officers, who believe that quelling the demonstrations is a legitimate mission, which will prevent the Alawites from losing control of Syria,” Kochavi said.
“There is no major phenomenon of defection – only 20-30 officers and a few hundred soldiers have left the Syrian army.”
However, Kochavi also said that “if Assad remains in power after the riots, his position will be much weaker.”
The IDF intelligence chief stated that Syria continues to send weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, despite the demonstrations.
Kochavi also commented on the agreement between Fatah and Hamas, calling it “unstable.”
“The agreement is only for show; it doesn’t have any practical content,” he explained. “Fatah continues to arrest Hamas men in the West Bank, albeit in smaller amounts.”
“[Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas wants to bolster [PA President Salam] Fayyad, because he is an asset internationally, but Hamas sees him as a red flag,” Kochavi added.
“Abbas prefers that we restart negotiations, so he doesn’t have to take Palestinian statehood to a vote in the UN,” Kochavi said. “He’ll negotiate if we accept his terms – ‘67 borders and a settlement construction freeze.”