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Exposed: Egypt allowing Israel to conduct airstrikes in Sinai in 'secret alliance' Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Exposed: Egypt allowing Israel to conduct airstrikes in Sinai in 'secret alliance'

Egypt has for years been battling Islamic State insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 February, 2018

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Unmarked Israeli drones and jets hover over Egyptian airspace to cover up a secret military alliance between Cairo and Tel Aviv.

Egypt has for two years been in a secret alliance with Israel, allowing Israeli drones to fly over the northern Sinai Peninsula conducting more than 100 covert airstrikes, according to a new report. 

With Cairo lagging in the fight against Islamic State, Israel, which grew increasingly apprehensive because of the security situation in the nearby North African country sought to intervene, a report by New York Times revealed.

Fearing backlash, both countries have tried to hide traces of Israeli airstrikes which are leaving Egypt increasingly dependent on Israel for its security.

When flying over Egyptian airspace, Israel only uses unmarked drones and ensures that its Israeli jets and helicopters cover up their markings. 

American officials briefed on this operation have said that some jets and helicopters fly circuitous routes to create an impression that they are based in the Egyptian mainland.

According to US officials, Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi fearing a domestic backlash has taken his own precautions to hide the origin of the strikes from all civilians and officials, except for a tiny circle of military and intelligence officers. 

Journalists are barred from entering northern Sinai, declaring it a closed military zone.

The Israeli military has placed a strict censorship of public reports of the airstrikes. 

It is unknown whether Israeli soldiers have stepped foot in Egypt during this secret operation.

While US Senator Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee refused to discuss specific details of the operation, he urged that Cairo’s attempts to hide the strategic alliance is nothing new.

“Israel does not want the bad stuff that is happening in the Egyptian Sinai to get into Israel,” he said. 

Cardin added that the Egyptian government hiding Israel’s intervention from its people is “is not a new phenomenon.”

Another US official expressed how perplexing it is that Cairo and Tel Aviv continue to discuss their security alliance, yet  carry out joint operations in the dark.

You speak with Sisi and he talks about security cooperation with Israel

 

“It is confusing to me” said Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee.

“You speak with Sisi and he talks about security cooperation with Israel, and you speak with Israelis and they talk about security cooperation with Egypt, but then this duplicitous game continues.”

Egyptian security forces have been battling Islamic militants in Sinai for years, but the violence spread and intensified in 2013 after the military overthrew Mohammed Morsi, a freely elected Islamist president whose one-year rule proved divisive. The region is now home to a powerful Islamic State group affiliate that has claimed a number of large attacks.

Cairo has been including heavy handed government policies in Sinai ranging from displacements of civilians to shoot-to-kill orders which have not contained the insurgency. Instead they have sometimes made residents prey to recruitment by them.

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