May 15, 2020

Risch, Menendez Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Group of Members in Letter to Administration in Support of MFO in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula

BOISE, Idaho – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in support of maintaining strong U.S. support to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Risch and Menendez were joined by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in addition to Representatives Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Appropriations, and Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.

“We are writing in support of maintaining strong U.S. support to the MFO in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula,” said the members. “The MFO’s credibility to both the Egyptian and Israeli governments depends, in large part, on America’s continued leadership role in the MFO, including the U.S. military men and women who are currently deployed to the Sinai Peninsula.”

“While resourcing the National Defense Strategy (NDS) means reexamining aspects of U.S. force posture in the Middle East, the U.S. should maintain adequate support for an organization that has bolstered regional stability through its peacekeeping role,” the members continued. “Failing to do so could result in a less stable Middle East and ultimately make it more difficult to implement the NDS.”

Full text of the letter can be found here and below:

We are writing in support of maintaining strong U.S. support to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

In an unpredictable region such as the Middle East, the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty represents an anchor of stability.  It has helped to prevent war between two former adversaries for more than four decades, sparing generations of soldiers on both sides the bloodshed of the previous era.

The MFO has been vital to the peace treaty’s durability.  Since its establishment in 1981, the MFO has supervised the implementation of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and employed best efforts to prevent any violation of its terms.  While the current Egyptian and Israeli governments both recognize the importance of the peace treaty and have every interest in sustaining it, the MFO’s oversight and mediation ensures that disagreements between the two sides are resolved diplomatically and discreetly.

The MFO’s credibility to both the Egyptian and Israeli governments depends, in large part, on America’s continued leadership role in the MFO, including the U.S. military men and women who are currently deployed to the Sinai Peninsula.  The U.S. force contribution to the MFO is also critical to encouraging twelve other U.S. partners to contribute their own troops to the organization.  Today, those other countries’ contributions represent more than 60 percent of the MFO’s overall force. 

For these reasons, it would be a grave mistake if the U.S. withdrew its forces from the MFO.  While resourcing the National Defense Strategy (NDS) means reexamining aspects of U.S. force posture in the Middle East, the U.S. should maintain adequate support for an organization that has bolstered regional stability through its peacekeeping role.  Failing to do so could result in a less stable Middle East and ultimately make it more difficult to implement the NDS.

We urge you to affirm American support for, and commitment to, the MFO.

Sincerely,

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