In an 18 minute long video, Hamas commanders are training the Islamic State branch, Wilayat Sinai, in military tactical operations to prepare for a confrontation with the Egyptian army and police as well as a possible confrontation with the Multinational Forces and Observers in the Sinai Peninsula that includes American troops.
Hamas has a history of collaborating with this Islamic State branch, Wilayat Sinai, and even invited their commander to expand its terror cooperation between the two terror groups. The Wilayat Sinai branch of Islamic State claimed responsibility for the downed Russian passenger plane that crashed in the Sinai in October 2015 that killed all 224 aboard. This has top U.S. administration officials very concerned about the safety of American troops who are stationed in the Sinai Peninsula and what the next plan of action should be.
The State Department stated that there will be no troop withdrawl from the Sinai and it will remain fully committed to the mission of the multinational force and observer mission; however, U.S. military leaders are concerned about troop safety and weighing what to do next. There’s approximately 1600 international forces that occupy outposts in the Sinai, including 700 mostly U.S. Army National Guard troops and they are only allowed to carry out offensive operations as per the 1978 Camp David accord.
As high-level military talks continue within the U.S. military, Rear Admiral Andy Lewis, Joint Staff vice director said,
“My focus is making sure that they have the force protection measures in place and we have increased the force protection measures.”
Whilst the danger increases in the region, so does the risk of loss of life, which was addressed 10 years ago when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld faced opposition when he attempted to pull U.S. troops out of the Sinai Peninsula, primarily from Israel and Egypt.
This creates a major dilemma for the Pentagon and the White House as it contemplates this dangerous situation with 700 U.S. troops lives on the line who are positioned in the middle of an increasingly dangerous region. Paul Salem, with the Middle East Institute out of Washington D.C. said,
“Almost everything has changed in the last few years. Now there’s a full-on battle between ISIS and the Egyptian army.”
What should the U.S. do to ensure the safety of U.S. troops who are stationed on the Sinai Peninsula? Should the 1978 Camp David accord be scrapped? Sound off in the comments below!