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Friday, August 31, 2012

Egypt’s Armed Forces retreat the tanks to another zone in Sinai

Egyptian military forces in Sinai

According to the military sources’ report, the command of Egypt’s Armed Forces ordered its tanks in Sinai to change their position and to retreat from the “Zone A” to the “Zone B”. The order came on Thursday, 30 August, just a day after the extensive move of Egypt’s military during its massive offensive targeted at terrorists in Sinai.

The territory of Sinai Peninsula is divided into several zones under the terms of Camp David peace treaty signed between Egypt and Israel in 1979. The Egyptian military presence and the number and type of weapon are limited in the zones along the border with Israel according to the peace treaty. Egypt is allowed to have only light military and police presence and no heavy weapon and tanks in those zones. The “Zone A” in which the Egyptian tanks were situated during the operation is the territory along the border. The “Zone B” is nearly 50 km far from Rafah and border and includes the towns of Bair El-Abd and Balouza.

Thus, the tanks retreated to the “Zone B” after the strong maneuver of Egypt’s army in Sinai in which 23 suspected terrorists were arrested and 11 militants were killed. In addition to that Egypt’s military also confiscated a huge amount of weapons and ammunition, which included machine guns, boxes with Israeli ammunitions, anti-tank mines and BM-21 launch vehicle.

But this order and removing the heavy weapons to the secondary military zone in Sinai doesn’t mean the end of military operation, stated the military source. The massive offensive named “Operation Eagle” was launched by Egypt’s Armed Forces after deadly border attack on 5 August 2012 which left 16 Egyptian soldiers killed and 7 wounded and after the series of following attacks and clashes between Egyptian soldiers and policemen and armed militants, which numbers were growing due the security vacuum in Sinai after fall of Hosni Mubarak.

The analysts think this move is possibly heeded to Israeli demands to withdraw the tanks and additional troops from Sinai after the military operation will be finished. Israel previously accused Egypt of violation the terms of Camp David peace treaty by deploying the additional forces and tanks to Sinai without the prior coordination with Israel, as it is demanded under the terms of peace treaty. Israeli side gave its approval to this deployment and welcomed Egyptian military operation launched against terrorists in Sinai, who are a real and serious threat not only for Egypt but for the Jewish state too. But Israel claims this approval came only post factum, as Egypt didn’t consult with Israel about its military operation.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated on 30 August, that he is expected that Egypt will retreat its tanks and withdraw the army’s reinforcements from Sinai after the military operation will be finished.

Egyptian military in its turn declared that the massive military offensive against terrorists in Sinai will continue till all the extremist networks and terrorist and criminal elements will be eliminated and the situation will be stable in the region. Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsy and Defense Minister and current Head of SCAF Abdel-Fatah El-Sissi, who are heading the operation, also stated the offensive in Sinai will finish only when the security will be restored.