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Friday, May 11, 2012

Sanctions that feed an appetite for arms

Sanctions are having such a biting effect on Iran that they are spending their extra money transferring Libyan weapons to the Sinai.
Egyptian security sources have informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the security apparatus in Cairo believe that Iran may be funding the smuggling of arms – belonging to the former Libyan arm – into the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The source added that the lack of security along the Egypt – Israeli border has increased the concerns that a new attack on Israel could be launched from Egypt’s Sinai.

For his part, an Egyptian government official who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity revealed that Cairo, over the past few weeks, has received some indications from Israel and from western countries, regarding the issue of the Sinai Peninsula. He said “the situation in Sinai is under control…the [Egyptian] Defence Minister has visited, as has the prime minister…and we are in charge of deciding what is to be done there.”


An Egyptian security source revealed that the Egyptian authorities have observed increased activities by jihadist groups that are moving across Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip, as well as the Egyptian border with Israel, via the Sinai Peninsula. The security source claimed that weapons smuggled from Libya, including BM-21 Grad missiles and other missile systems, have increasingly appeared in the hands of extremist groups since the beginning of the year.

As for the suspicions that Iran is involved in the smuggling of arms from Libya into the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian security source informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Iran might continue its attempts to incite Egyptian – Israeli tensions by utilizing hard-line groups operating from the Sinai Peninsula. The source also revealed that Egyptian authorities had observed Iranian businessmen and nationals, carrying western passports, entering the country following the collapse of the Mubarak regime.


Local officials in Benghazi have claimed to have no knowledge regarding whether or not Iranian businessmen are financing any arms smuggling operations from Libya into Egypt. However, some security sources in Benghazi have revealed that there are links between military battalions with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood which were formed after the collapse of the Gaddafi regime in the Cyrenaica region of eastern Libya, and Islamists in Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Security sources in the Sinai Peninsula have claimed that the types of weapons being used by hard-liners “come from Libya”. The source also revealed that Egyptian authorities had arrested 2 jihadist elements earlier this week for photographing an Egyptian armed forces security station in the al-Ahrash district of Rafah city. The source added that it was clear that the two suspects who had been arrested subscribe to jihadist ideology, and perhaps have links to the recent attacks on the Egyptian armed forces in the Sinai Peninsula.
I guess those sanctions have really helped the Iranians set their priorities.

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