Monday, September 24, 2012

Counter attacks in Libya and Sinai

In a very unusual action last night the compounds of several armed extremist groups were stormed by mobs in Benghazi, Libya and they were trashed.  The terrorists were expelled and their offices and equipment were destroyed.  This included the Salafist Ansar al Sharia group and al Qaeda in the Maghreb that were thought to be responsible for the attack on the US Embassy on 9/11/12 that killed Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans.  This attack was carried out under cover of the riots against the publication in the US of the trailer for the movie "The Innocence of Muslims," that is considered to insult Mohammed. 
As far as I know this is the first time that a Muslim mob actually rioted against the extremists rather than with them. The mobs in this case were supported by armed Government soldiers.  Today the Libyan President Mohamed el-Magariaf announced a new policy, disbanding all militias and forbidding them to carry arms in public.  This is a necessary step for Libya to progress from its former civil war to a civil and civilized society.  The Libyan Government, which is the only one elected after the so-called Arab Spring that is not overtly extremist and allied to the Muslim Brotherhood, is flexing its muscles after the attack on the US Embassy, to try to take over control of Benghazi and the country.  We should all applaud this action of the Libyan Government.  However, it remains to be seen whether or not it will be able to impose itself successfully on the country given the presence of many large armed militias.  However, the first step proved successful, Ansar al Sharia announced that it is suspending activities in Libya.  A small victory for "our" side.
In Sinai, the Egyptian Government under Pres. Morsi is not having as much success.  They have attacked several extremist centers and supposedly killed 60 or so terrorists.  But, that didn't stop terrorists attacking and destroying a facility of the American monitors of the Israel-Egypt peace agreement in Sinai.  Also, three terrorists crossed the Israeli border yesterday where the new fence has not been finished and ambushing an IDF patrol that was giving water to some African migrants.  The IDF counter-attacked and killed all three of them, but not before one IDF soldier was killed and one was injured.  The dead soldier is Cpl. Netanel Yahalomi, who was buried this morning in Modi'in military cemetery. 
This kind of piece-meal counter-attack does not do much good when there are thousands of terrorists active in Sinai, some of them coming from Gaza.  Although it appears that Pres. Morsi is serious about retaking control of Sinai for the Egyptian Government, so far the results have not proved effective.  Can Israel afford to wait until this happens?  Two things are clear, the Israel-Sinai border fence must be finished soon and the IDF should not be used to provide water and other humanitarian aid to migrants, this should be done by others trained for the purpose.  Also, FM Lieberman announced that Israel will not agree to any changes in the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty.  This means that either Egypt must take control of Sinai with the arms that it has, or eventually the IDF will have to do it for them. 


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