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Aharon Zeevi Farkash Photo: Niv Calderon
Aharon Zeevi Farkash Photo: Niv Calderon
 
 

'Egypt still views Israel as relative threat'

Former Military Intelligence chief says Egyptian military has significantly improved its capabilities, though it still lacks true deterrence versus Iran

Roee Nahmias
Published: 03.26.09, 18:30 / Israel News

Major-General (Res.) Aharon Zeevi Farkash, former Military Intelligence chief, discussed the various security implications the Israel-Egyptian peace treaty had of on the latter's military, at a National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv.

 

Thursday saw Israel mark the 30th anniversary of its peace treaty with Egypt.

 

Cairo, said Farkash, "does not have the necessary deterrence to keep Iran at bay in the Arab Middle East, which may explain its conduct during the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead."

 

The Egyptian military, he added, faces four major challenges: The first – Israel – whose strong army is still viewed as a threat; the second – its immediate neighbors, Libya and Sudan; the third – the farther Arab nations which dread any rise in Iran's regional power and which may require Egypt's military assistance; and fourth – the exterior threat posed by Hamas and Iran.

 

Egypt also has homegrown concerns in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood, which threaten the stability of Cairo's regime.

 

Speaking of the modernization process the Egyptian military is undergoing, Farkash said that "Egypt still perceives the IDF as a relative threat and sees Israel has having the strongest, most modern military in the Middle East. The way the IDF conducts itself has become an ethos studied by every last one of their officers."

 

Egyptian Defense Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, added Farkash, "is committed to peace with Israel, but he stills sees a need in building up the Egyptian army, to maintain its deterrence against Israel. His army is based on the Soviet doctrine of accumulating mass."

 

Some 60% to 70% of the Egyptian army is made up of Western weapons, including their fighter jets and combat helicopters. Their armored divisions are equipped with US-made tanks and they have precision anti-missile systems, he said.

 

Farkash concluded by saying that there is "a significant improvement in the Egyptian military's war-readiness, but nevertheless, it still allows it to deal only with yesterday's challenges, rather than tomorrow's threats."

 

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