Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi has sent a secret missive to President Barack Obama asking for urgent US military intervention in support of Egypt’s war on the Islamist State in Sinai, before the jihadis pose a real threat to Cairo. debkafile’s exclusive intelligence and counterterrorism sources report that El-Sisi has come to the conclusion that Egyptian army lacks the ability to eradicate the terrorist peril without direct US military support.
In his note, he asks Washington to replicate in Sinai the format of US intervention in the war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, namely, to send in special operations forces to establish bases and operate drones against jihadist targets. Unless stopped, he warns, the Islamic State is on the point of transforming the Sinai Peninsula into its primary forward base in the Middle East, bolstered by its branches of terror across North Africa, especially in Libya. US intervention is necessary to avert this.
So far, Sisi has received no answer from the White House and no sign of one in the pipeline.
Our military sources note that, given his record as former defense minister and a much-decorated general in the Egyptian army, an appeal to a foreign power for military assistance is out of character and would normally be found unacceptable in his own milieu. It must therefore be seen as a sign of extreme distress over Cairo’s failure to vanquish – or even contain ISIS, which now poses a strategic threat to Egypt proper.
In this situation, the generals in Cairo were dismayed to read a New York Times leader on March 25, captioned “Time to Rethink US relationship with Egypt,” which faults the Egyptian regime’s human rights record and suggests that the relationship does Washington more harm than good.
The NYT concludes by saying, “Over the next few months, the president should start planning the possibility of a break in the alliance with Egypt. That scenario appears increasingly necessary.”
Since this article appeared out of the blue, it is feared in Cairo that it is President Obama’s way of spurring the Egyptian president’s SOS.
Some high-ranking military figures in Cairo have started talking about alternatives: If Washington refuses to come up with military assistance for fighting the Islamic State, perhaps the time has time to go elsewhere.
An Egyptian appeal to Moscow cannot be ruled out.