David Makovsky's column ["Risks and Rewards in Gaza," op-ed, Aug. 10] begged an important question regarding weapons smuggling from Egyptian Rafah into the Gaza Strip: Where do all those weapons come from? This is an issue that the Israelis, the Egyptians and the Quartet -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- have ignored.
Mr. Makovsky asserted that Egypt "has an interest in preventing Gaza from becoming an Islamist state," but this is hardly clear from Egyptian actions. Rather, Egypt seems content to use the relatively vast and distant Sinai as a pressure valve to divert radical Islamists from its heartland. Although the Sinai is sparsely populated and mostly a closed security zone, Islamist and Palestinian terrorists have had a relatively free hand in smuggling weapons into Egyptian Rafah and have been able to launch several spectacular terror strikes there. Egyptian security forces have yet to capture those responsible for the attacks.
Fighting radical Islamists with one hand while appeasing them with the other is a well-known tactic in Arab and south Asian countries -- witness not only Egypt but Saudi Arabia, Syria and Pakistan. It is far from clear that Egypt would view a distant and isolated Islamist Gaza, hard on Israel's border, as a bad thing.
JONATHAN F. KEILER