Monday, Aug. 20, DEBKAfile revealed that Egypt was holding M-60 tanks in northern Sinai without coordination with Israel as a bargaining chip for gaining substantial US economic aid and refraining from a rapprochement with Iran. Since there is still no sign of Egypt launching its promised major offensive against al-Qaeda-linked jihadi strongholds in Sinai, Cairo is finding it hard to explain the tanks’ unauthorized presence there and keeps on coming up with lame excuses. Tuesday, Egyptian officials tried maintaining that they gained Israel’s permission a year ago after repeated sabotage of the gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan and it is still current. Later, they said the tanks were necessary to defend the northern Sinai town of El Arish.
Had the counter-terror offensive taken off three weeks ago when it was promised, Israel would have not demurred to the tanks’ presence - so long as Cairo gave a timeline for their removal. No such timeline has been offered.