Our President, Barak Obama, is having discussions within our government about Egypt. The United States has stationed troops in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula for over thirty years. These are token forces that help create stability in that region.
The Islamic State, or ISIS, is a threat to the region, and our government is considering its options relating to the troops. The troops could become a target for Islamic State violence. Currently, the troops are lightly armed since there has been little risk of harm. The troops have been a symbolic show of strength in a relatively safe area.
There are several options under consideration. The troops could be fortified with better equipment and added manpower to provide the needed protection. We could have the Egyptians increase their forces to help protect our military. Or we could withdrawal our forces to avoid any conflict.
These troops have been in the Sinai Peninsula since 1979, when Egypt and Israel signed their historic peace agreement. There are 700 troops stationed there to monitor and enforce the treaty. Those stationed there possess little military might, as their function is to verify Egypt adheres to the agreement.
ISIS has increased their activities and attacks in the area. They have been very active since the 2013 coup that disposed of Mohammed Morsi. Since that time ISIS has claimed responsibility for several large-scale attacks. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has been using his army to attempt to destroy ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula, without much success.
Of course, this conflict is right in the heart of the Middle East. If the current Egyptian government would fall to ISIS, then the longest lasting peace treaty between Israel and an Arab state would surely end.
Obama is considering all options. Everyone realizes that the Administration desperately wants out of the Middle East. We have withdrawn from Afghanistan and Iraq. We have no interest in joining the conflict in Yemen. Our fight with ISIS involves air strikes only. The United States does not wish to risk land troops in any conflict. We are withdrawing from the world, not engaging the world. To date, the Obama Administration has not made a decision of what to do in the Sinai. The land in the area is desert with a very sparse population.
The Camp David Accords require two United States military units be mandated to be stationed in the Sinai Peninsula for peacekeeping, they are permitted to leave temporarily if they face imminent danger. The United States does not believe that situation currently exists.
The radical Muslims would consider any withdrawal of U.S. troops as a victory that would further their recruiting and reputation. Our allies are already worried about the U.S. commitment in the region. With our withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq, plus our use of airstrikes instead of ground troops, our allies question our fortitude. The agreement with Iran only solidifies those questions.
The U.S. does not want to change the current set-up. Since el-Sissi has come to power, the relationship between Egypt and Israel has never been better. Israel has on several occasions allowed Egypt to add extra troops in the Sinai to attack ISIS. The two nations are communicating and working well together. The U.S. does not want to do anything that upsets the current balance.