US considers withdrawing Sinai peacekeeping force

Ben Sales

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Facing increased threats from extremists in the Sinai Peninsula, the United States is considering withdrawing its peacekeeping troops, who have been stationed there since the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty.

The 700-member force, called the Multinational Force and Observers, was placed in the Sinai to monitor compliance to the Camp David Accords. The accords brought about Israeli-Egyptian peace in return for an Israeli withdrawal from the territory.

The force has little offensive capability and has faced rising danger from Islamic militants, according to the Associated Press. Militant activity in the area has increased since Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi was deposed in 2013 and replaced by current President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. Sissi has launched a campaign to defeat the Sinai militants.

The Obama administration is reviewing the force’s position, and is considering bolstering its capabilities with additional weapons. But withdrawing the force from the region is also a possibility, according to AP.

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“The US is concerned over deteriorating security conditions in an area of northeastern Sinai where Egyptian security forces as well as civilian and military elements of the MFO, including the US military forces stationed at the MFO North Camp, are exposed to potential risk,” State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told AP.

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