Egyptian Premier League fixtures (15th matchday)    Communication ministry provides 20 electronic services via digital means    Tennis: Federer overcomes slow start, reaches Australian Open QFs    Erdogan says Haftar cannot be expected to respect Libya truce    Lebanon's Bank Audi chooses Egypt's EFG Hermes as financial advisor in deal to sell its Egypt unit    Israel approves travel to Saudi under limited circumstances    STC claims negotiating to acquire stake in Vodafone Egypt    Iraqi security forces clash with hundreds of protesters in central Baghdad    Dozens pulled from rubble as Turkey quake toll hits 35    Trump says U.S. will not lift sanctions to negotiate with Iran    Live score: Egypt's Ahly v Tunisia's Etoile du Sahel (African Champions League)    China virus ability to spread getting stronger    US registers third coronavirus case: Health officials    Egypt's Sisi awarded by Germany's St. George medal for peace-making in Africa    Major Gulf stocks slump over spreading coronavirus fears    EBRD is interested in pumping investment into Egypt: President    Egypt denies cases of coronavirus among its citizens in China    Trump to reveal Middle East peace plan, amid Palestinian rejection    EGX expected to maintain sideways at 13,700-14,000 amid low liquidity    Zero coronavirus infection in Egypt, eastern Mediterranean region, says WHO    E-Commerce latest strategies to double online business    Egypt to play Tunisia for African Men's Handball Championship title, Olympics qualification    MOI pardons 2,957 prisoners on Police Day    A whisper from the past: voice of 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy reproduced    France confirms three cases of deadly China virus    Egypt's AOI, Canada's Point North Co signs deal to revamp SEMAF    GEM at the forefront of Egyptian tourism promotion in 2020    A year of major tourist openings ahead: Al-Anani    Two Iraqi protesters killed, 25 wounded in clashes with police: Sources    Despite FDA's anti-vaping campaign, popularity of e-cigarette grows    Interdisciplinary study reveals new insights into evolution of sign language    Books not to miss this book fair - The dreams and agonies of an Egyptian filmmaker    Technical, legal committee meeting on GERD concludes in Khartoum    Financial solvency biggest challenge in Egypt's smart transport market    Egypt's Sisi marks National Police Day with visit to Police Academy    Audio recording: The voice of a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy    Egypt's achievements will be starting point for building modern state: El-Sisi    Al-Sisi reviews GERD negotiation updates ahead of Washington meeting    Sesame Street launches Arabic TV programme for Middle East children dealing with displacement    Egypt in a group with Gabon, Libya, Angola in 2022 World Cup qualifiers    Egypt to play Angola for group leadership in African Men's Handball Championship quarter-finals    Maspero triangle's towers will be up and standing in 30 months: NUCA    TMG to sponsor 5 Egyptian athletes qualified to Tokyo Olympics 2020    ‘Djamila Bouhired' movie star Magda al-Sabahi dies at 89    Egypt is best tourism destination for 2020 according to BBC    Egypt's Zamalek, Smouha presidents hit with disciplinary sanctions by EFA    Egypt's President Sisi pardons some prisoners on 25 Jan. Revolution anniversary    Egypt's Sami Anan released after near two-year detention    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.





Genesis of the Sinai crisis
The unprecedented offensive pitting the Egyptian army against jihadist groups in northern Sinai continues unabated. But can the military option really offer a sustainable solution?
Published in Ahram Online on 27 - 09 - 2013

While the military uses war weapons, including attack helicopters, in its crackdown on Islamist militants in North Sinai, terrorist groups have also intensified their attacks against the army and the police. Due to the strong pressure exerted by the military, the jihadists, avoiding direct confrontation, have increasingly resorted to suicide attacks. Sign of the difficulty of its task, the army is establishing -- for the first time in Sinai -- a buffer zone three-kilometres- wide along the border with the Gaza Strip, to better prevent the smuggling of weapons and infiltration of Islamist militants.
North Sinai has become, since the 25 January 2011 Revolution, a stronghold of takfiri (an ideology that labels society and the government as infidels) and terrorist movements. Taking advantage of the security vacuum resulting from the fall of Mubarak, these groups have swarmed and been reinforced by weapons -- mainly from the traffic of the Libyan army's arsenal during that country's civil war and following Gaddafi's fall -- and men.
These Islamist militant groups derive from three main sources. The first is the mass escape of Egyptian prisoners, among them terrorist elements, during the security chaos that accompanied the beginning of the fall of the Mubarak regime. This, in addition to the following regime – that of the Muslim Brotherhood – purposefully releasing a number of other jihadists perceived as potential allies in the face of rising internal opposition.
The second source is the return to Egypt, under former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, of hundreds of Egyptian jihadists from Afghanistan, Albania and elsewhere.
Finally, Arab terrorists -- mainly from the Arabian Peninsula, but also Palestinian militants from the neighbouring Gaza Strip -- rushed to Sinai after Morsi's deposition to lend a hand to fellow jihadists against what they perceive as a war against Islam waged by the Egyptian army and police.
The fall of Morsi added a regional dimension to the issue which led to an influx of Arab jihadists from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria, Sudan and elsewhere. Al-Qaeda branches in other Arab countries, such as Iraq and North African states, also point to the growing interest in partaking in the armed struggle against the Egyptian army and police.
Although these jihadist groups regarded the Muslim Brotherhood's application of Sharia as too moderate, or too soft, they perceive the latter's overthrow by the military as tantamount to an attack on Islam itself justifying waging war against the army. The intensity of this war is also due to the fact that Morsi's dismissal brought an end to the then existing policy -- with mixed results -- whereby military restraint in operations against jihadists was returned with their halting attacks against the army and the police.
Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad is the oldest and most dangerous jihadist group in Sinai. Ansar Al-Sharia, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, Maglis Shura Al-Mujahideen Brigades and Al-Furqan are also among the most active in this area. The coordinator between these different groups – which makes him the most wanted man -- is Ramzi Mwafi, Bin Laden's former doctor who escaped from an Egyptian prison during Mubarak's fall. Mwafi was described by an Egyptian court in June as "Al-Qaeda secretary-general in Sinai."
Despite being ideologically different, these Al-Qaeda-inspired jihadist groups are linked from an organisational viewpoint and have closed ranks, after the 3 July overthrow of Morsi, in their fight against their number one enemy: the Egyptian army.
Some of these groups have developed a close ideological, political and economic relationship with Palestinian Hamas, thanks to the illicit trade carried out via underground smuggling tunnels between Sinai and the Gaza Strip, which explains the important presence of Palestinian militants in Sinai.
Most of the armed groups' recruits, however, hail from Sinai's main Bedouin tribes -- Al-Sawarka, Tarabine and Breikat -- who ensure their protection and facilitate arms trafficking. The tribes are thus divided between families supporting the jihadists and others cooperating with the army and the police to hunt down terrorists.
Sinai has always posed a security problem for various reasons. The first is related to geography. This region borders the Gaza Strip and Israel, bane of the jihadists, which gives them a gateway to attack Israeli targets. The control by Hamas -- which adopts armed resistance against Israel -- of the Gaza Strip since June 2007, has reinforced jihadist groups in Sinai, establishing a multifaceted cooperation with the Palestinian Islamist movement.
The topography of the peninsula makes it ideal for jihadists. The large 60 000 km2 desert region is only sparsely populated by 600 000 inhabitants – 70 percent of whom are Bedouins mainly living in the coastal areas. This scenario leaves the field open for jihadist groups to multiply and find refuge in the rugged northern and central areas of Sinai, such as the Al-Halal Mountain, difficult to access by security forces and the army.
Given the strategic importance of Sinai, due to its border position with Israel and the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian authorities have always maintained a predominantly security- and military-oriented vision of this expanse, neglecting the local population, which consequently suffers from a delay in economic development compared to other regions of the country. Even the flourishing tourism industry in South Sinai only slightly benefited the Bedouins, who continued therefore to rely on smuggling with the Gaza Strip.
The accession of several Bedouins to jihadist groups, their links with Hamas and their involvement in the illicit trade with the Gaza Strip, reinforced the suspicions of the army and the Egyptian authorities against them, which aggravated their marginalisation. At the same time, discrimination and abuses suffered by the Bedouins at the hands of the police and the army in their search for jihadists, fuel resentment and hostility from at least some of them, thereby strengthening the ranks of jihadist groups.
In this context, the military option cannot be a sustainable solution to the multifaceted problem of the Sinai population. The key lies in a better integration of the Bedouins in Egyptian society through various means, including the phasing out of the discrimination they are subjected to and the implementation of major development projects which warrant their participation in the development of the local economy.
http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/82529.aspx


Clic here to read the story from its source.