The inauguration of Muhammad Morsi in Egypt prompted a quick Israeli response: The Prime Minister rushed to congratulate the newly elected president, expressing hope that the two countries will continue to cooperate on various levels; in Cairo, Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, Yaakov Amitai, met with several top-ranking members of the Muslim Brotherhood, stressing that Jerusalem had no intention to interfere with Egypt’s domestic affairs.This, however, masked the deep anxieties of the country’s leaders. As the flames of revolution are still raging at Israel’s doorstep, many experts voice their concerns about the impact of those events on the Jewish state.“Israel will be facing challenges in several spheres,” said Orit Perlov, a researcher who focuses on the Arab states at the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS). “Since the epicenter of the uprisings is usually the capital or the country’s major cities, the periphery is left neglected, creating a void that is easily filled by various terrorist cells,” she continued.Indeed, after the eruption of the popular protests that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula turned into a haven for terrorist activity.Other reports indicated that Jihad Islami, a terrorist organization aimed at annihilating Israel, was establishing arms-making and logistical bases in the area, convinced that the long arm of Israel’s Defence Force (IDF) wouldn’t reach them there.Some militants went as far as stationing long-range rockets in the region (some of which have already been fired into Israel), assuming that Jerusalem would be far less inclined to attack such sites out of concern for bilateral ties with Egypt. Others – reportedly linked to Al-Qaeda – made several attempts to infiltrate the country.All of these developments have been particularly frustrating, given the fact that in the past 30 years the 240km Israel-Sinai border remained mostly unprotected, saving both countries tens of billions of dollars in military expenditures. The situation wasn't ideal under Mubarak though, but the strong fist of the security forces presented a deterrent to those, willing to undermine stability. Now with the regime gone, many terror groups feel free to dictate their own rules.Addressing the issue -- especially following last August’s terrorist attack that left eight Israelis dead and some 31 others wounded -- Israel decided to construct a sophisticated fence (at a considerable cost) along the entire border. The move did decrease trafficking and illegal immigration but failed to solve the problem of militants shooting into Israel, leading the IDF to beef up its presence in the area.But apart from the high level of violence that’s been plaguing the area, Perlov said Israel would face other challenges. “An excessive flow of unsupervised weapons is streaming from Iran via Sudan, Libya and the Gaza Strip, while the populist government in Cairo lacks any basic policy to tackle the problem,” she told Israel Today. “This kind of situation bogs down the country’s economic development, which needs stability,” she stressed.However, some Israeli politicians remain optimistic about the future of Egypt. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Egypt would probably move towards a Turkish version of Islamic democracy, meaning Cairo would maintain a ‘cold peace’ with Jerusalem. But as tensions escalate across the border, Israel might opt for retaliation, leading to a full-fledged war.
Syria has begun moving parts of its vast arsenal of chemical weapons out of storage facilities, U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal.
The country has vast undeclared stockpiles of sarin nerve agent, mustard gas and cyanide, according to the report. American officials have different opinions regarding the logic behind the decision to move the chemical weapons out of storage."Some U.S. officials fear Damascus intends to use the weapons against the rebels or civilians, potentially as part of a targeted ethnic cleansing campaign," writes the Journal. Others said strongman Bashar Assad "may be trying to safeguard the material from his opponents or to complicate Western powers' efforts to track the weapons."
Another opinion was that Assad is moving the weapons as a feint, "hoping the threat of a chemical attack could drive Sunnis thought to be sympathetic to the rebels from their homes." Yet another assessment is that the move is connecte with a plan Assad has, to create an enclave controlled and populated only by his Alawite minority sect.
"This could set the precedent of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] being used under our watch," a U.S. official said. "This is incredibly dangerous to our national security."Officials said that if Assad uses chemical weapons, Western allies would probably go ahead with plans to intervene in the Syrian civil war more aggressively than they have until now and topple him from power.
Bolton says the Assad regime in Syria would on its way out of power if not for the Russians. He says Russian military assistance and diplomatic interference gives the brutal dictator a much longer lease on power.
Two US tourists were held hostage in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday by Beduin tribesmen seeking the release of an imprisoned kinsman, security sources said.
The Americans, one man and one woman, were stopped by the Beduins in an armed ambush in central Sinai and taken along with their Egyptian tour guide to a remote mountainous location, the sources said.
Security in the isolated desert region has deteriorated since the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising in February 2011. South Sinai's Red Sea coast is a major tourism hub for Egypt.
Also Friday, IDF forces killed one man and injured another who were trying to cross the border from Sinai.
The head of the Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip said on Friday he was confident Egypt's new president would shield the Palestinian enclave from Israeli attack and fully open its borders to end a trade blockade.
Mohamed Morsi, who won power in last month's presidential election in Egypt, is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and ideologically close to Hamas.
Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas's Gaza government, told worshippers in a mosque that change was coming.
"We are confident that Egypt, the revolution led by Morsi, will never provide cover for any new aggression or war on Gaza," he said. "We are confident that Egypt, the revolution led by Morsi, will not take any part in blocking Gaza," he added.Politicians in Israel have expressed alarm in private over the election of Morsi and fear that their country's historical peace treaty with Egypt could be eroded over time.