"On the one hand, he issued a strong declaration condemning the attack, vowed to catch and punish the culprits, and traveled to El Arish with Field Marshal Muhammad Hussein Tantawi to assess the situation himself. On the other hand, he also permitted his Muslim Brotherhood colleagues to issue a venomous statement blaming Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad, for the attack and warning Egyptians to beware of those trying to sabotage the revolution."
But they said a "responsible leader, one who wants international support to bolster his flagging economy, cannot play childish games that pander to the worst instincts of Egyptian public opinion. Indeed, any serious effort to prevent terrorist infiltration in Sinai requires coordination with Israel, which -- even if kept in the shadows -- cannot proceed in an environment of public vilification."
The paper said that, in light of the Sunday attack, Egypt should make improvements in its Sinai presence and realize that the United States sees Sinai "as an essential aspect of Egyptian-Israeli peace." A failure to improve security on the peninsula could trigger an overall reassessment of the U.S. military assistance package, with an eye to updating this 1980s-era relationship for the current environment.
"Last year, under an annex to the treaty with Israel, Egypt was permitted to move an additional seven battalions into the Sinai. Yet these forces are reportedly underequipped and have avoided patrolling terrorist hotspots," the paper said, referring to the violence in El Arish and Rafah.
"Moreover, according to reports, Egypt's security presence along the border with Israel is dangerously deficient -- so much so that Israeli patrols are occasionally obliged to provide food and other essentials to their Egyptian counterparts."