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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Egypt’s Army to withdraw its tanks from Sinai

Egypt's tanks in Sinai

Egypt’s Armed Forces will withdraw nearly 20 tanks from the territory of Sinai Peninsula, according to the statement of security official.

Egypt has already removed its tanks from the “Zone A” to the “Zone B” which is about 50 km far from the border between Egypt, Israel and Gaza. Under the terms of Camp David peace accords signed between Israel and Egypt in 1979, the number of military troops situated in Sinai and the number and the types of the weapons as well should be considered with Israel. In addition to that the border zones close to Israeli border should remain demilitarized, with only light military and police presence. Any military operation conducted by Egyptian side should be also consulted with Israel.

There were some concerns of Israel recently due to Egyptian additional military presence, especially tanks, which were deployed in the Sinai territories in the framework of massive military offensive launched by Egyptian Armed Forces against extremists and terrorist groups emerging in Sinai. Israel generally welcomed Egyptian move to fight the militants and restore the security in the region, but its authority voiced some concerns about regarding the alleged violation of the terms of Camp David committed by Egyptian side. Israel claimed Egypt didn’t consult with IDF before bringing the tanks in the area. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in his turn declared recently that Israel expects Egypt will withdraw its additional troops and heavy weapons from Sinai after the military operation will be finished.

So some observers think the decision of Egyptian Armed Forces do withdraw its heavy weapons from the Sinai territories is connected to those concerns of the Jewish state.
Egypt’s security source in his turn stated that it is a planned action conducted by the country’s military. The Armed Forces are working currently on the long-term plan to permanently hand over security in North Sinai to the police. The tanks were withdrawn from Sinai due to conducting of this plan as there is no need in them anymore.

Fighting terrorists, criminals and thugs is the responsibility of the police, not the army, that’s why the security will be handed over to the policemen. From another hand, the specific of Sinai landscapes and its terrain creates a lot of difficulties in maneuvering of the tanks and heavy armored vehicles used in the military. It makes the military operations in the region difficult, according to the military source.

The security authority in Sinai is expected to be handed over to Egyptian police step-by-step, and army will gradually withdraw its additional forces in order to giving the space for the police to fulfill its duties and carry on its responsibilities in attempt to restore security and stable situation in Sinai.