Through the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), Norwegian officers monitor the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.
Norway has contributed with personnel to MFOs since 1982. Four out of ten force commanders have been Norwegians. As of 2021, Norway contributes with three staff officers who have important tasks in the organisation.
The Norwegian officers are based at the South Camp near Sharm El Sheikh. The Norwegian team consists of one adviser to the MFO force commander, one officer in the planning department, and one liaison officer.
About the Multinational Force and Observers
MFOs main task is to ensure that the parties follow the peace agreement. The organisation facilitates military dialogue between Egypt and Israel to build trust, contribute to greater transparency and support lasting peace in Egypt.
MFO has a force of approximately 1,200 personnel from thirteen nations: Australia, Canada, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Fiji, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay. The MFO headquarters is located in Rome, Italy, while the military headquarters ia located in South Camp, near Sharm El Sheikh.
MFO personnel operate both through static operational posts and through local patrolling with military MFO units. With its three patrol vessels, the Italian Coast Patrol Unit (Costal Patrol Unit) monitors ship traffic through the Strait of Tiran. The MFO Civilian Observer Unit operates throughout Sinai – also on the Israeli side, along the entire Israeli border with Egypt in Sinai, from Eilat in the south to Gaza in the north. The personnel in the Civilian Observer Unit are civilian and unarmed, but they drive armoured vehicles and have military escorts.
In addition, MFO liaisons contribute to enabling the parties to meet routinely and when needed. They ensure that exceptions and amendments to the peace agreement and force allocations are discussed and approved in structured forms.
The origin of the MFO is the Camp David Agreement signed by Egypt and Israel on 26 March 1979, after a long and turbulent relationship with several wars and conflicts between the two neighboring countries.
Egypt's and Israel's desire to establish a UN peacekeeping force was rejected by the UN Security Council in 1981. At that time, the United States, through an agreement with Egypt and Israel, established an independent organisation. This led to the founding of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO). Preparations were initiated in the autumn of 1981, and the force was deployed in March 1982. The mission started on 25 April 1982 under the leadership of a Norwegian force commander, Lieutenant General Fredrik Bull-Hansen (died in 2018).
The security situation in Sinai has worsened since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in the winter of 2011. The security situation in northeastern Sinai is challenging and complex.
Several anti-government elements, terrorists and local militant Bedouin groups joined forces in November 2014 in what is known as the "Sinai Province of the Islamic State", abbreviated to Wiliyat Sinai (WS). They have since waged an active insurgency against Egyptian security forces and government officials in Sinai.