Instability, Violence Threatening Multinational Sinai Peacekeeping Force

Middle East instability has endangered the United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, where sectarian violence and threats from Hezbollah have created a situation in which contributors are withdrawing their troops. The deepening regional chaos has similarly undermined the U.N. force patrolling the Israeli-Syrian border (UNDOF), where multiple have attacks on peacekeepers have led several countries to withdraw their contributions.

And now, the Sinai Peninsula, where the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) is under siege:

A dramatic rise in militancy and violence in the vast Sinai desert is increasingly threatening a peacekeeping force there that includes nearly 700 U.S. troops acting as guarantors of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, according to Western military officials. Heavily armed locals have blockaded bases and convoys, and, in a few instances, launched attacks against the peacekeepers, raising concerns not only about their safety but also the long-term stability of their mission.

The MFO serves as the guarantor of the 1979 peace treaty between Cairo and Jerusalem. It has recently had to up security around its northern base in response to an uptick in violence across the Peninsula. Last week at least 25 Egyptian police officers were killed in “execution-style” slayings by suspected jihadists.

There are several regional diplomatic initiatives that rely on the future deployment of multinational peacekeeping forces, most prominently the current U.S.-backed revival in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

[Photo: The National Guard / Flickr]