On 5th August 2012 masked gunmen in Egypt's Sinai desert killed 16 Egyptian soldiers at a checkpoint along the border with Gaza and Israel, the first such attack on Egyptian troops - and then the attackers drove off, crashing into Israel, before being fatally stopped by the IDF. Egypt blamed Islamist militants from Gaza and Egypt's troubled Sinai Peninsula. President Mohammed Morsi said the attackers "will pay dearly.". However, while Morsi has certainly hit the terrorists cells in the Sinai very hard, the real payment seems to have been extracted from the Egyptian military and the real winner? President Morsi.
Following the attack, Islamic Brotherhood backed Morsi moved swiftly to consolidate power from the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) , which up until that point had seemed to have the upper hand in the battle of wills with the Islamists.Two days after the attack, President Mohamed Morsi announced the dismissal of Murad Muwafi, head of the General Intelligence Directorate, who had replaced Omar Suleiman, as well as the dismissal of the governor of the northern Sinai province and the head of the military police. Five days later, President Morsi announced that Defense Minister Tantawi, Chief of Staff Anan, and the commanders of the navy, air defense, and air force were “retiring.” It appears that the top command echelon of the Egyptian defense establishment, which operated as part of SCAF and has controlled Egypt since Mubarak’s ouster, was dealt a heavy blow in the struggle with the civil government. Many social media users are calling this development “check mate” and “a knockout” in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. President Morsi also used the opportuni
ty to recover the executive and legislative powers that SCAF had taken from him.
Additionally, he is managing to achieve something his predecessor Mubarak did not even attempt, the re-militarization of the Sinai peninsula, emptied of all but lightly armed forces under the Camp David accords of 1978, unless by prior agreement with Israel. Egypt used attack helicopters and armored personnel carriers in coordination with Israel to go after militants suspected of being behind the Aug. 5 killing of the Egyptian soldier
s in Sinai. Later, however, Egypt deployed U.S.-made M60 tanks to Sinai without consulting with Israel, which drew objections from the Israel despite the fact that it has long encouraged Cairo to crack down on militants in Sinai.