Egypt and Israel share coinciding interests, and Egypt does not object in any way to the weakening of the Muslim Brotherhood (and essentially hurting Hamas in the process). Egypt needs Israeli permission to deviate from the security appendix of the peace agreement to deploy significant forces into Sinai capable of tackling the Islamic terrorist cells there.
Again, Israel facilitates this due to its shared interests. The Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Mossad have built an efficient intelligence array providing an abundance of information about activities in Sinai and Gaza, and which serves as an important tool for the Egyptian army in its efforts to hit the terrorist cells there. The outstanding cooperation between the IDF and Egyptian military is a valuable strategic asset for Israel, and is necessary for the sides to operate in a synchronized manner. The accusations against the Egyptian army for being an Israeli collaborator and the attempts to delegitimize Sissi’s rule require both sides to maintain secrecy in order to keep the channels of communication open.
In Syria, meanwhile, forces loyal to President Bashar Assad are battling the rabble of rebels seeking to depose him and establish an extremist Sunni Islamic state. Israel is trying not to get involved in the fighting, and the Iranian-Russian support of Assad allows, at this stage, for his survival and prevents the extremists from emerging victorious.
In Syria, as in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are meddling in the background, trying to influence the creation of a Sunni Islamic regime while pushing Shiite Iran out. And Syria, like Egypt, has shared interests with Israel, even if there is no mechanism to facilitate coordinated steps aside from the U.N. peacekeeping force stationed on the Golan Heights, or a third-country mediator. On the surface, establishing a secret channel of communication with Damascus seems impossible, but such an initiative would provide the security establishment in Israel greater flexibility to act and solve crises ad hoc, which is crucial in our ever-changing environment.
The unstable situation in the Middle East and the possibility that radical Islamist elements take control of the region are a significant threat to Israel, but this situation also holds many opportunities that we should try to exploit. In addition to maintaining a high alert level to help us intercept any threat, Israel should explore opening secret channels of dialogue that will help it in times of need.
Vice Adm. (res.) Eliezer Marom is a former Israel Navy commander.