World View: U.S., Israeli Forces on Alert as Egypt Begins Major Military Action on Israel's Border

This morning's key headlines from

  • Egypt launches a major military action into Sinai on Israel border
  • Israel and U.S. forces go on alert over fear of wider war
  • Palestinians ask for an airport as Kerry pursues farcical 'peace process'
  • Thousands of Russians protest over conviction of Putin opponent
  • Espionage suspect Edward Snowden may be trapped in Russia

Egypt launches a major military action into Sinai on Israel border

Egyptian forces in northern Sinai (AFP)
Egyptian forces in northern Sinai (AFP)

Egypt's army is launching a major military offensive, dubbed Fattah 2 (Conquest 2) against a coalition of aggressive Salafists, Muslim Brotherhood operatives, Hamas and Jihad Islami groups conducting terrorist attacks in Egypt's Sinai region, on the border with Gaza and Israel. The security situation in Sinai has been getting increasingly unstable since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi. In the past two weeks, 39 terrorist attacks have occurred. In the resulting clashes between armed groups and security forces, 52 gunmen and civilians and six security personnel have died. Tensions have also flared at the illegal smuggling tunnels on the border with Gaza, with one Central Security conscript killed by smugglers on Thursday. The tunnels, which are considered a lifeline for Gaza, are being blocked or destroyed by the Egyptian army.

Muslim Brotherhood sources claim that the army is fabricating terrorist attacks in Sinai in order to label the Brotherhood "terrorists." However, most Sinai tribal leaders believe that the sudden surge in violence is linked to the ouster of Mohamed Morsi. New groups have sprung up, with such names as as "The Legitimacy Brigades" or "The Legitimacy and Victory Brigade," where "legitimacy" refers to the Egypt's first free election, and it's victory for Morsi.

There's evidence that the situation in Sinai is attracting jihadist fighters from North Africa (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM) and from al-Qaeda in Pakistan. In that sense, the Sinai is competing with Syria, which is also attracting jihadists from locations throughout Asia. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Debka

Israel and U.S. forces go on alert over fear of wider war

Israel is increasingly uncomfortable with the buildup of Egyptian military forces near its border in the Sinai. These forces violate the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries, but Israel has been compelled to give permission because of the increasing security issues.

Israeli forces along the Egyptian and Gaza borders are on alert; so too are the 2,600 US Marines aboard two amphibious helicopter carriers anchored opposite the Red Sea shores of Southern Sinai and the Gulf of Suez since the start of the Egyptian crisis.

Israeli defense officials are concerned about an escalating war, and the army is preparing for scenarios where violence spreads across the border into Israel. There is also concern that Egypt's armed forces will enter Gaza, as the interim government has already accused Hamas of contributing to the unrest in Sinai. YNet

Palestinians ask for an airport as Kerry pursues farcical 'peace process'

The so-called Mideast "peace process" has been a farce for years, but that doesn't prevent U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry from flying around the Mideast declaring that he's going to be the one to bring the sides together and create a wonderful peace between Israel and the Palestinians for now and forever. Kerry met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, on Wednesday, and apparently Abbas gave Kerry a new message: Abbas will not agree to new "peace process" talks unless Israel approves the building of an airport in Palestinian capital Ramallah in the West Bank. The airport would serve helicopters and light planes. It's unlikely that the Israelis will go along with this, presumably because terrorist attacks could be launched from an airport. YNet

Thousands of Russians protest over conviction of Putin opponent

Thousands of Russians protested in Moscow on Thursday, as opposition leader Alexei Navalny was led off in handcuffs after a court convicted him and sentenced him with five years in jail for allegedly embezzling money from a timber firm where he had served as an advisor. It's widely believed that there is no evidence supporting the conviction. The EU said the verdict posed "serious questions" about the state of Russian law, while the US said it was "deeply disappointed."

Starting in 2008, Navalny began blogging about government corruption, and by 2011 he was inspiring mass protests against president Vladimir Putin, calling his United Russia party the "party of crooks and thieves." He was arrested and imprisoned for 15 days in December of last year, and then went on trial for embezzlement this year, receiving a conviction on Thursday. He appeals to Russian nationalists by referring to migrants as "rotten teeth" and "cockroaches." It's widely believed that the prosecution and conviction of Navalny originated from Putin's office.

Long time web site readers may recall that back in 2004 I followed the situation with Russian energy firm Yukos pretty closely.

In 2003, Yukos supplied 11.4% of all the oil in the whole world. By the end of 2004, Yukos was defunct.

At the beginning of 2004, Putin was denying that he had any evil intentions toward Yukos. Putin began by jailing Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky on trumped-up political charges. (He's still in jail, incidentally.) By the end of the year, Yukos had been dismantled and nationalized by means of the most bizarre series of steps imaginable.

At the beginning of 2004, I was wondering what Putin had in mind. By the end of the year, it was obvious that Putin had lied about his intentions, and that he was willing to use any means available to him to get what he wants, while still retaining personal deniability. The situation with Navalny seems to indicate that's still true. Ria Novosti (Moscow) and BBC

Espionage suspect Edward Snowden may be trapped in Russia

Some Russian officials are suggesting that U.S. traitor Edward Snowden, who committed anti-American espionage, fled to Hong Kong and then to Moscow, will not be permitted to leave Russia, and that he's no longer in the airport, but is in a safe house control by the security police.

Initially, Russia's president Vladimir Putin said:

"We told him [Snowden], he may stay [in Russia] if he stops hindering our relations with the US, but he refused."

Snowden refused these terms, but his attempts to flee to an anti-American Latin America country have been repeatedly thwarted. Thus, on July 12 he finally changed his mind, and requested "Temporary political asylum," which does not exist in Russia, so he's apparently given temporary refugee status, "because of humanitarian considerations." Under the terms of his refugee status, an official announced, "We warned Snowden that any activity that may undermine US-Russian relations is unacceptable." Putin added: "I do not understand why Snowden decided to stay all his life in Russia, but that is his choice."

I've actually thought for a long time that Snowden would never be permitted to leave Russia. The reason is that if Snowden has all this intelligence information, then there must a lot of it pertaining to Russia and to Putin himself. If Snowden fled to Venezuela, then the politicians there would gleefully expose Putin's secrets, as well as U.S. secrets.

But there's a second reason as well. The U.S. is holding a Russian defector who has disclosed the names of a number of Russian spies. The U.S. is in a position, if it desired, to publicly disclose information about Russia spying on its own neighbors, including the countries in the former Soviet Union. This would be extremely embarrassing to Putin.

So the traitor who thinks the U.S. is so awful that he decided to betray his country out may now be trapped in the wonderful (formerly) socialist paradise of Russia, where he can contemplate the differences between the two countries. Gee, I hope they don't waterboard him. (wink wink) Jamestown

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