Egypt destroys arms convoy crossing from Libya

Egyptian soldiers stand guard in northern Sinai in this file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 24 October 2017
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Egypt destroys arms convoy crossing from Libya

CAIRO: Egypt’s Air Force foiled an attempt to smuggle weapons, ammunition and explosives into the country across its borders with Libya, a military statement said Monday.
The Egyptian military managed to destroy eight vehicles loaded with ammunition and killed militants in the western desert, it added.
The Egyptian Air Force had been carrying out raids and operations for the past six years across its 1,150-km border with Libya to combat the smuggling of weapons.
But Monday’s air raids came a few days after Egyptian authorities announced that at least 16 policemen were killed in a brazen ambush by militants in the Al-Wahat Al-Bahriya area, about 135 km southwest of Cairo. A previous series of attacks in the same area was blamed on militants pouring in from Libya.
The Egyptian Army’s statement said Monday’s operation was part of raids and search operations along the border with Libya to track the terrorists involved in the Friday clash in Al-Wahat Al-Bahriya.
Libya has been a hotspot for arms smuggling since the fall of the regime of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Security analyst Nabil Sharafdin told Arab News Egypt’s military has been fighting an insurgency across the Libyan border for years now, but it remains challenging for Egypt to maintain border security with Libya.
“In the absence of a central government in Libya, securing Egypt’s western borders will continue to be challenging, thus making our borders with Libya far more dangerous than our Sinai borders with Israel and Gaza,” he noted.
“The timing of this air force operation could be intended to assure the Egyptian public that the situation is under control after Friday’s hideous attack against our police forces,” he said.
In the same vein, Middle East expert Paul J. Sullivan told Arab News: “The Egyptian-Libyan border is much longer and more porous than the one with Gaza. Dangerous groups in Libya are potentially far deadlier and there are still weapons caches from Qaddafi’s times.
“The Libyan border can be monitored better with sensors, drones, aircraft, ground vehicles and AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) planes. However, the insecurity and fluidity of the Libyan side of the border make this far more complex and difficult to handle than any other borders.”
Military raid
Military spokesman Col. Tamer El-Rifai said on Monday that the military killed six suspected militants in a raid in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula. The military seized weapons and ammunition, the Associated Press quoted him as saying.


White House Mideast team holds talks with Jordanian king

King Abdullah of Jordan (L) and Jared Kushner. (AFP)
Updated 24 min 51 sec ago
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White House Mideast team holds talks with Jordanian king

  • The US has been trying to rally support for projects to rescue Gaza’s economy, which has been weakened by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, while continuing to isolate Hamas
  • Jared Kushner’s team plans stops in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. No talks with the Palestinians are scheduled, though the Americans have left the door open to meeting with them

AMMAN: President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, kicked off a swing through the Middle East on Tuesday, meeting with Jordan’s king as part of a broader effort to lay the groundwork for an expected Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Kushner and White House envoy Jason Greenblatt held talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah, a key US ally.
A White House statement said the talks focused on US-Jordan cooperation, the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the US efforts “to “facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
US officials have said their peace plan is near completion and could be released this summer. But it faces resistance from the Palestinians, who have cut off ties since Trump recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December and moved the US Embassy in Israel to the holy city last month. The Palestinians, who seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital, accuse the US of siding with Israel in the most sensitive issue of their decades-long conflict.
Kushner’s team also plans stops in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. No talks with the Palestinians are scheduled, though the Americans have left the door open to meeting with them.
The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip for an independent state. Israel captured the territories in the 1967 Mideast war. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas militants seized control of the territory two years later.
The US has been trying to rally support for projects to rescue Gaza’s economy, which has been weakened by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, while continuing to isolate Hamas. The US, Israel and Western allies shun Hamas as a terrorist group. Details of the plan have not been released, but Palestinians fear they will get little more than a symbolic foothold in Jerusalem. They also fear that aid to Gaza will help strengthen Hamas’ control over the territory.
Jordan also has a stake in east Jerusalem, serving as the custodian of major Muslim and Christian shrines there. Jerusalem’s walled Old City, captured and annexed by Israel in 1967, is home to Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy sites.
Abdullah has also rejected Trump’s moves in Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to relinquish any part of the city.
Netanyahu traveled to Amman on Monday for a surprise meeting with Abdullah, telling the king that Israel remains committed to the status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem.
Abdullah told Netanyahu that the fate of Jerusalem must be determined in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and that a solution should be based on establishing a Palestinian state, with east Jerusalem as its capital, on lands Israel captured in 1967.
Palestinian officials fear the Trump administration plan will leave them with a mini-state in the Gaza Strip, parts of the West Bank and a foothold in Jerusalem. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has said he will reject any plan being floated by the Trump team, arguing that the US has forfeited its role as mediator because of decisions seen as pro-Israel.