The relationship between Israel and Egypt has often been referred to as a “cold peace”, marked by various levels of mistrust and antagonism from Cairo toward its treaty partner.


However, it appears that the relationship is now far warmer than is widely known. David Kirkpatrick, Cairo bureau chief and a Middle East correspondent for The New York Times, reports that there has been a “secret alliance” between the two nations, as Israeli has hit terror targets in the Sinai at the behest of Egypt’s leaders.

For more than two years, unmarked Israeli drones, helicopters and jets have carried out a covert air campaign, conducting more than 100 airstrikes inside Egypt, frequently more than once a week — and all with the approval of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The remarkable cooperation marks a new stage in the evolution of their singularly fraught relationship. Once enemies in three wars, then antagonists in an uneasy peace, Egypt and Israel are now secret allies in a covert war against a common foe.

For Cairo, the Israeli intervention has helped the Egyptian military regain its footing in its nearly five-year battle against the militants. For Israel, the strikes have bolstered the security of its borders and the stability of its neighbor.

Their collaboration in the North Sinai is the most dramatic evidence yet of a quiet reconfiguration of the politics of the region.

The alliance is a win-win for both sides. Egypt makes inroads on the terror threats they have found difficult to remove, and Israel gets to do some security-based housekeeping.

Unable and uninterested in physically controlling terrorist-controlled areas, Israel cannot even conceive of attempting to resolve the political problems on its borders. Therefore, it has not tried to implement the classic counterinsurgency strategy of “winning hearts and minds,” which calls for extinguishing the motivation behind conflict through a comprehensive political and social approach. Instead, it attempts to obtain a temporary but significant debilitation of enemy capabilities.

Israeli officials have applied an unpleasant euphemism to their counterterrorism strategy in non-occupied areas: “mowing the lawn.” Israeli strikes target the leadership of terrorist groups and the infrastructure that supports them.

The rise of Iran in the region is a contributing factor in this “lukewarm peace”.

The rise of Iran and its growing regional role – extending from the Gulf to the Mediterranean is alarming countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Circumstances then have pushed some of the moderate Sunni Arab states ever closer towards Israel. They share concerns about both Iran’s regional role and its nuclear ambitions, and the perceived unwillingness of Washington in recent years to confront Tehran.

Diplomatic signals and briefings lead one to believe that there is genuine substance in this rapprochement.

Interestingly, we may have a former President to thank for this improved partnership.

Experts also suggest that the Obama Administration’s Middle East policies may have unintentionally brought the two countries closer together. “The Egyptian military was not happy with what they believed to be the inclusiveness and openness to political Islam with [former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi’s] government, and the Obama Administration has been wrestling with the Israelis on any number of issues for the past several years,” says Miller. “That has created an indirect community of interests.”

So, the Israel-Egypt bond may be the one, good legacy that Obama has left us…even though it was clearly unintentional.

As I mentioned Egypt, I would also like to share this report about the thrilling discovery of a 4,300-year-old tomb of an Old Kingdom noblewoman named Hetpet.