3:10 PM, Mar 5, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Earlier this morning Israeli commandos boarded an Iranian vessel in the Red Sea carrying an arms shipment destined for Gaza and the Sinai. According to Reuters, the Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel Klos C was boarded in international waters without resistance from its 17-strong crew, who may have been unaware of the cargo they were carrying. Israeli Defense Forces spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters that the ship was carrying dozens of M302 rockets. "The M302 in its most advanced model,” said Lerner, “can strike over 100 miles, and if they would have reached Gaza, ultimately that would have meant millions of Israelis under threat.”
Those weapons may have been meant to target Egyptians as well as Israelis. Egypt’s military-backed government is effectively at war with both Sinai-based and Gaza-based Islamist organizations, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hamas, say Egyptian security officials, is backing the Sinai-based groups in their attacks on Egyptian soldiers and policemen. And accordingly Egyptian security officials explain that now they have their own Muslim Brotherhood under control after deposing President Mohamed Morsi, they will turn their attention to Gaza and Sinai. However, the IDF raid this morning shows that this is likely more empty boast than reality.
An IDF map and video posted at TheTower.org show the route that the weapons took: they were shipped from Damascus International Airport several months ago to Tehran, where they were dispatched to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, the typical starting point for Iran’s Red Sea smuggling route. Here the weapons were loaded on to the Klos C, which embarked on its long trip with Port Sudan as its final destination. Here the weapons are typically assembled by Iranian technicians and, as The Weekly Standard has previously reported, are transported by Sudanese smugglers “across the Nubian Desert to the Egyptian border, all the way through Egypt’s Eastern Desert along the Red Sea, and through the Suez Canal deep into the Sinai Peninsula” where they are transferred through tunnels into Hamas’s hands in Gaza.
That is to say, even if Egyptian strongman General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is eager to go after Hamas and assorted militants in the Sinai peninsula, his military and security forces are incapable of stopping these weapons shipments from traversing the entirety of Egypt, from its southern border to its northern one. The IDF knows that Egypt is incapable and incompetent, which is why it interdicted the weapons at sea instead of leaving the security of Israeli citizens in Sisi’s hands.
This morning’s raid raises many interesting questions. First is that it’s not clear what the shipment means regarding Iran’s relations with the Gaza-based organizations. Does it mean that Iran and Hamas have patched up their differences after a falling out over the Syrian civil war in which Hamas could not be seen supporting the Assad regime, slaughtering fellow Islamists and Sunnis in general. Or does it mean that Tehran is eager to see its long-standing client Islamic Jihad take a more active role? Perhaps it just means that the Iranians are flooding Gaza and the Sinai and don’t care who gets the weapons so long as they’re useful in the war against Israel as well as the campaign against Sisi’s Egypt.
Perhaps the most relevant fact illustrated by this morning’s operation is that the IDF is now providing security for three Arab regimes. Without an IDF presence in the West Bank, both the Palestinian Authority and Jordan would be extremely vulnerable to Hamas and assorted Salafist-Jihadist groups, which in Gaza and Sinai similarly threatens the stability of Egypt. The IDF raid underscores the incompetence of the Egyptian army and security services, as well as the political vulnerability of an Egyptian strongman who has chosen to make war on Hamas and Sinai insurgents—a war he cannot win or perhaps even survive without the assistance of Israeli intelligence and special operations.
Israeli officials explain that coordination with Sisi’s army and security services is better than ever before—which we now understand simply means that Sisi is allowing Israel to protect his northern border. The question is: Once that fact becomes clear, how will Sisi explain it to Egypt, a nation of 80 million riven by hatred of Israel and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories? Sisi’s adversaries, among them a Muslim Brotherhood that he has yet to destroy as promised, will doubtless put the information to their own use.
Hosted by Michael Graham4:00 PM, Feb 24, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast, with editor William Kristol on President Obama's influence with foreign leaders and Ted Cruz's role in the GOP.
Forget chess, Turkey is failing at geopolitical checkers. Nov 4, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 08 • By LEE SMITH
A recent spate of newspaper articles suggests a concerted media campaign targeting Turkey’s foreign intelligence service, the MIT, its director, Hakan Fidan, and almost surely his boss as well, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In a piece published by the Wall Street Journal and another by the Washington Times, Fidan is said to be supporting al Qaeda affiliates in Syria fighting against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
3:29 PM, Aug 22, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The anti-Christian violence in Egypt is "a modern pogrom," David Brog, the executive director of Christians United for Israel, says in a statement.
"Events in Egypt this week highlight yet again the tragedy facing the Christians of the Middle East. Once again, Christians are being targeted for murder. Once again Christian schools, businesses and churches are being attacked. And once again, the world is largely silent," Brog says.
According to the press, Jerusalem goes against the White House and stands with the Egyptian army.7:02 AM, Aug 21, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
According to the Wall Street Journal, Israel, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, is gung-ho for the Egyptian army’s bloody campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood. This, the Journal reports, “has pulled Israel into ever-closer alignment with those Gulf states.” Yes, concurs, the New York Times, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE support “the Egyptian military and sought to push back against Western entreaties that it temper its actions against the Brotherhood and the ousted government of President Mohamed Morsi and his supporters.”
Hosted by Michael Graham.1:23 PM, Aug 20, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior editor Lee Smith about ongoing crisis in Egypt.
7:11 AM, Aug 19, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The boss joined This Week on Sunday to discuss Egypt, law and order, and politics:
Who is Maurice Bonamigo?4:46 PM, Aug 15, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
Earlier this week, Maurice Bonamigo had strong words for the White House on its Egypt policy. “The Obama administration failed to assess the situation in Egypt,” Bonamigo told Egypt’s flagship English-language media organ, the Egypt Independent. “It did not appreciate the power of the Egyptian people calling for freedom. I am surprised by Obama’s stance.”
Yesterday's confrontation between Egypt's army and the Muslim Brotherhood may only be the beginning.4:01 PM, Aug 15, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
This morning President Obama announced that he is cancelling this year’s joint military exercise with Egypt, Operation Bright Star. It’s a symbolic gesture intended to show that, should the army continue to pursue its present course, the White House may eventually decide to suspend military aid. But cancelling Bright Star also underscores American impotence. The administration reportedly warned Egypt’s military regime against a violent crackdown, an admonition to which, with 638 now confirmed dead after yesterday’s nationwide confrontations with Muslim Brotherhood supporters, the army obviously turned a deaf ear.
11:19 AM, Aug 15, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama delivered about an 8 minute statement on Egypt this morning, then went straight to the links. Via the pool report:
10:42 AM, Aug 15, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama delivered a short audio-only statement on Egypt this morning, from his rented-vacation home on Martha's Vineyard:
In the statement, President Obama cancelled a planned joint U.S.-Egypt military exercise and called for "Egyptian authorities to respect the universal rights of the people. We call on those who protest to do so peacefully."
Obama did not say that U.S. aid to Egypt would change.
The president answered no questions.
12:24 PM, Aug 14, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest released this statement on the ongoing violence in Egypt: