Why Israel Will Miss Morsi

As Egypt's Military Cracks Down, Sinai Descends Into Chaos

Benjamin Bibi Netanyahu Morsi Egypt Israel Military Jewish Muslim Brotherhood Sinai
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem (Ronen Zvulun / Courtesy Reuters)

Even as Egypt’s generals continue their violent crackdown on supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi, Israel has been lobbying the international community to give the military its full backing. Israeli policymakers are understandably nervous about the Muslim Brotherhood, and they take as a given that Islamist group wants to see the Jewish state’s destruction. But security and intelligence cooperation between Israel and Egypt actually thrived during Morsi’s presidency. And particularly in the wake of Monday's massacre of 25 Egyptian policemen in Rafah, a city on the border of the Gaza Strip in North Sinai, Israel might find that it was better off with Morsi in power.

For Israel, the worst possible result of the political upheaval in Cairo is chaos along its southern border. The Sinai Peninsula stayed relatively calm for decades after Israel returned it to Egypt in 1982, following the countries’ 1979 peace treaty. Terrorism, smuggling, and cross-border provocations did not begin with the collapse of the Mubarak regime, but Sinai began to descend into total lawlessness as the police state apparatus melted away around the time of the February 2011 revolution. And the security situation there has dramatically worsened since the military’s removal of Morsi on July 3, after which there has been a marked uptick in deadly attacks against Egyptian soldiers and police in Sinai.

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