[This article was updated at 5:00PM EET to include a statement by Egypt’s Military and reports of deployment of US troops to Jordan]
Egypt’s Armed Forces have acknowledged reports on the deployment of more than 400 U.S. troops to the Sinai, stating that the deployment is simply a rotation of US peacekeeping troops that had originally been stationed there in 1982. The Military’s spokesperson added that the troops do not have the required weaponry or resources to engage with any combatants or rioters.
Various news agencies had reported that 400 U.S. troops are set to be deployed in Egypt’s Sinai for a ‘riot control’ mission.
According to KDH News, the soldiers are being sent to Egypt to curb potential riots and protests. The troops will also be given the power to intervene in the case of any situation that poses a threat to Israel’s security.
Currently, the troops are undergoing training in Fort Hood (Texas) and Fort Irwin (California) that will allow them the ability to effectively man security checkpoints and outlooks in the Sinai and they are being trained to counter riot situations that include Molotov cocktails and other weapons.
The troops are being sent to Egypt under the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) peacekeeping force. However, according to the MFO‘s mission, members of the force are traditionally there to operate checkpoints and observation posts, report on any violations of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, and a variety of other observational missions. The MFO’s mission does not include riot control or direct engagement with any combatants.
However, it is perplexing as to why the U.S. troops are being sent to Egypt under the guise of the MFO despite clearly exceeding the powers of the multinational force.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports indicate that the soldiers are simply using the MFO as a disguise, and that there are ulterior motives for their deployment to Egypt.
Government sources who wished to remain anonymous stated that the deployment of US troops may be linked to a potential military intervention in Syria. Reports indicate that President Morsi’s recent speech in a Cairo Stadium in which he announced the complete cutting of diplomatic ties between Egypt and Syria foreshadowed a US military intervention in Syria that is to be supported by Egypt.
This information is backed by new reports indicating that the American military has deployed more than 1,000 soldiers in Jordan following a joint Jordanian-American military exercise. In a letter to the US House of Representatives, President Obama stated that the soldiers would remain until the region becomes stable. Political analysts believe this move is to prepare for a potential no-fly zone over Syria.
The news of deployment comes ahead of nationwide protests planned on June 30 against President Morsi. Though the U.S. government has stated that it supports all peaceful demonstrations, the American Ambassador in Cairo, Anne Patterson, recently stated that any protests or demonstrations against the democratically elected President will not lead to a stable democracy.
The reports of U.S. troops in Egypt is likely to heighten anti-US sentiments in the country whose population has often blamed the Obama government for turning a blind eye to President Morsi’s actions over the past 12 months.