“It gives us the sense that the Egyptians want to attack Israel,” claims International Assessment and Strategy Center Senior Fellow Richard Fisher, on an arms deal that will send North Korean Scud missile parts through China to Egypt.
According to a story in the Washington Free Beacon, U.S. intelligence officials learned that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un – in violation of United Nations sanctions – is sending Scud missile parts to Egypt.
“Intelligence reports from mid-November were circulated to senior officials in the State Department, Pentagon and intelligence agencies,” the report said. “The shipment would be the first by the North Korean regime to the new Egyptian regime headed by Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president.”
The State Department has not responded to WND’s request for comment.
Fisher told WND that Egypt first received Scud missile technology from the Soviet Union in the 1970s before President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel.
A former Defense Department analyst who asks not to be named, however, says that North Korea has supplied Scud missile parts to Egypt for several years and that China has been a conduit for several years, so this shipment by itself isn’t unusual.
Still, Fisher sees Egypt’s acquisition of the parts as a sign that Egypt is revving up its missile capability. If so, Fisher believes this is bad news for Israel.
“The deal makes sense if they want to attack Israel,” Fisher said. “Missiles are more able to make it through Israel’s air defense system.”
At the same time, Fisher says this arms deal is good for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government.
“Missiles can be controlled by a small number of troops in Egypt,” Fisher explained. “This means that despite Morsi’s political problems at home, the missiles could also be controlled by troops that are loyal to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government.”
Fisher indicates that the parts acquisition could also signal a shift in the alignment of Egypt’s military.
“It’s also likely that this is the first step of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt getting its own military force that is capable of establishing its own united command structure,” Fisher said. “This command structure can grow and potentially gain greater power over the existing command structure that in some senses may still have some loyalties to the West.
“The present military is also reluctant to take on Israel because of the results of previous campaigns against the Israelis,” Fisher said. “A force more loyal to Morsi may not be as reluctant.”
A more unified command that is more loyal to Morsi would be a political asset to the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned president.
“Morsi could use this small structure to divide and conquer the present military. If this materializes, it could even resemble the structure in Iran, where the mullahs have a military unit that is loyal to them,” Fisher said. “It might even be something like Morsi’s own Revolutionary Guard.”
The former Defense Department analyst speaking with WND disagrees, however, and says that the Egyptian military will not surrender control of the missile arsenal.
“It is in the military’s interest to keep and maintain security, which has been the backbone of the security arrangement with Israel since 1979,” the analyst said.
The Defense Department analyst adds that Egypt’s role in the recent Gaza ceasefire is evidence that Egypt may not have aggressive intentions toward Israel.
“It was the Egyptian intelligence/military conduit through which Israel negotiated the ceasefire with Hamas,” the analyst said. “Morsi never spoke directly with the Israelis, and that avenue was undertaken since Morsi realizes his own limitations of power.”
Fisher’s assessment is ultimately that China is the big winner in the deal. He says being the intermediary will increase China’s influence in Egypt.
“China is lending legitimacy to Egypt and aligning itself with the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt,” Fisher said. “The fact that the Chinese are the intermediaries means that the Chinese will become a bigger player in Egyptian politics.”
WND reported in September that Morsi’s choice of China for his first state visit signaled that both nations were pursuing closer ties.
Newly elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi apparently didn’t choose China by accident as his first state visit. According to analysts, the move was meant to send a message, especially to the United States, that Egypt remains a significant influence in the Middle East, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
At the same time, Morsi is offering China a chance to expand its influence in the Middle East, which the Chinese quietly have been attempting to do for some time.
“It is essential at this juncture to forecast what China expects from the new Egypt in particular, and the greater Middle East in general,” asserted analyst Brendan O’Reilly in the Asia Times.
With China seeking to extend its influence in the Middle East, it is looking to Egypt – from which U.S. influence is receding – as it concentrates its military forces more in its own backyard in the South China Sea.
Fisher adds that North Korea will also continue to receive long-term benefits from the deal.
“For North Korea it means money and an affirmation from China,” Fisher said.
Fisher says it’s uncertain how the Obama administration will react, but added, “With the administration’s record of supporting jihadists in Egypt, Libya and Syria, it’s unlikely that they will have any reaction to this deal.”
The White House has not responded to WND’s request for comment on this story.