The Sinai Peninsula: A neglected region threatening Egyptian/Israeli’s Peace

Recent instability in the Sinai illustrate the growing threat to the Egypt/Israeli peace agreement.

CAIRO, August 6, 2012 - On Sunday August 4th, 35 assailants attacked the Egyptian/Israeli’s border at Rafah, leaving 16  Egyptian Officers dead and 7 injured, according to the Military Council.  The Israeli military spokesperson, Yoav Mordechai told the army radio on Monday August 5, 2012 that the gunmen were members of the global jihad based in Sinai, which has become a hot house for world terrorism because of the weak control exercised by Egypt.

Ehud Barak, Israel Defence Minister said the attack showed the need for Egypt to take action to impose security in the Sinai Peninsula.

On  August 6, President Morsy and Field marshal Hussein Tantawi visited North Sinai to offer their condolences to the Egyptian soldiers stationed at the borders and to assess the situation. President Morsy ordered 3 days of official mourning for the country.

In Egypt, all Islamist groups condemned the attack, calling for those behind it to be brought to justice, whether they are extremist Islamic groups, Al Qaeda, Palestinians or the Israeli Moss ad. The Muslim Brotherhood said that the attack could be attributed to the Mossad, which has been seeking to abort the Egyptian Revolution.  Several days before the attack, it instructed Israeli citizens to leave the region.

They added that such incidents are also attempts to disrupt the president reform project and drive a wedge between the Egyptian administration and its people, and the Palestinian government and the people of Gaza.

Ahmed Shafik, former presidential candidate, demanded an immediate revision of the border security procedures between Egypt and Israel in order to stop such tragic terrorist attacks.

In fact, this attack was not the first incident. Since the January 2011 revolution in Egypt that toppled Mubarak, the Sinai has become a no man’s land due to the security vacuum in the peninsula. Jihadists from Egypt and Gaza joined local Bedouins in the Sinai, as many of them felt detached from the government and hoped for an economic improvement in their neglected region through illegal activities such as cross-border smuggling. Bedouins, especially those with an extremist Islamist ideology, are well armed and have recruited local tribesmen to co-operate with terrorists in several attacks.

Dozens of Police stations, check points and government institutions have been attacked by militant Egyptian and Palestinian groups. Meanwhile, the Egyptian-Israeli gas pipe line in the Sinai has been sabotaged 14 times

The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) monitoring the security provision of the Egyptian/Israeli peace treaty is constantly under assault as some Bedouin tribesmen are threatening the MFO camps. Al Masry Al Youm, an Egyptian newspaper, reported that some Bedouins in the Sinai had kidnapped and subsequently released 10 peace keepers.

In August, last year, Al-Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula, claimed responsibility for attacking Al-Arish police station. Another group, also based in the Sinai, called Ansa’r Al Jihad, declared its allegiance to Ayman Al Zawahiri, the Al Qeida leader.

Egyptian authorities must address the dangerous situation in the Sinai through peaceful means.  For example, it can open a dialogue with local Bedouins and encourage serious investments and introduce development projects to attract international investment to the neglected region. Without immediate action from both national and international fronts, the Sinai could easily become a timed bomb ready to explode any moment.

 


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Anwaar Abdalla

Anwaar Abadallah Khalik Ibrahim has her Ph.D. from Ain Shams University (1999, first degree honour) and currently lectures on Civilization and Cultural Affairs for Helwan University.  Dr. Abdalla Kahlik Ibrahim also works as an official coordinator for the cultural exchange program between Helwan Uni and TSU in the USA entitled “Cultural Immersion 2011-2014.”

Additionally, Ms. Abdallah is a member of the Egyptian and Arab women’s writer’s union and the Cairo Women Association.  She is also the translator of several books published by the Ministry of Culture including Shadows on the Grass, Impossible Peace and The Secret Rapture. Dr. Ibrahim is also an accomplished author and essayist in both Arabic and English publications. 

 

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