Pentagon Wants to Pull U.S. Troops From Sinai
The Pentagon wants to withdraw nearly all US troops serving as a buffer between Israeli and Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula, but the White House fears this would signal US disengagement from the Middle East at a critical time.
Officials in the administration of president George w. Bush told the Washington Post that defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld informed the National Security Council and the State Department this month that the Pentagon intends to reduce the number of US troops in the 20-year-old multinational force from 865 to 26. The U.S. troops are part of a force of 3,000 military and civilian observers
established under the Camp David peace accord signed in 1979 by Israel and Egypt.
White House and state department officials told the Post that they are concerned that Middle Eastern governments and some U.S. allies might view the troop pullout that as the US is abandoning the region at a time of escalating Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Rumsfeld wants a reduced U.S. role in the Sinai as part of a broader effort to scale back U.S. military deployments overseas. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has registered Israel’s opposition to the US troop pullout, and Egypt’s ambassador to the United States has said the US troop contingency in the Sinai "is important." (Albawaba.com)