The latest chapter in Egyptian political drama is set in the ‘lawless Sinai’, or ‘Wild Wild West’ as it’s also called – and took front and center stage this week. The murder mystery, also known as the “Ramadan Massacre”, which killed 16 Egyptian soldiers came complete with a showdown of political rivals, Arab/Muslim extremists and riveting plot twists, has all its viewers at the edge of our seats, and is far more fascinating than any Hollywood blockbuster.
In typical fashion of any good political drama, the absolute lack of evidence did not prevent mud slinging by political rivals, followed by a variety of conspiracy theories, and those with the most entrenched interests trading accusations. The lack of clear evidence, gave all the political parties the green light to throw around their opinions of who was responsible, and of course the parrot media followed with their rein of articles, and within minutes officials blew up the internet, blogosphere and social media sites speculating about events and reporting them as facts–thus utterly confusing the public. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas blamed Israel’s Mossad, and Israel blamed militants from Gaza and within hours the borders were shut, the notorious travel ban was enacted and the collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians, was intensified. The Egyptian army then deployed troops to respond to the situation and media reports spread widely, announcing that 20 insurgents had been killed. But the initial report was never confirmed, and it has become clear now that it was almost certainly false.
President Morsi did not disappoint and proved to be a (news) worthy actor. In a move deserving of an Academy Award, he created for his presidency a triple win scenario. By reshuffling key positions and appointments, he removed the much hated Field Marshal Tantawi from his position-thus averting a showdown with the Egyptian street, and provided him a dignified exit strategy by making him an adviser in his cabinet and decorated him with the country’s most prestigious honor, pleasing the high level military brass which to everyone’s surprise, did not even utter a word of disagreement..and in the end – consolidating his Presidential powers.
So, who’s to blame
With it still unclear as to who was responsible, and evidence unlikely to be forthcoming – what’s clear across the board, is that the killing of the army officials was a complete military disaster. Yet, the security failure should not be seen as the shortcomings of the Egyptian army alone. The incoming government, inherited a legacy of lawlessness which began in 1979 as a result of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. According to he “Security annex of Camp David accords Egypt can not have army officers or soldiers in the areas, only police and lately borders guards with light arms and armored vehicles.” . This was the first time since 1967, the Egyptian Air Forces sent its planes from air fighters like F16 and helicopters to the area. Today, there are said to be approximately 1,500 ‘extremist’ groups in the lawless territory, now the big question is, WHO will be able to control the situation and prevent future attacks.
When viewed in the above light, it seems that the most logical question is if the goal of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel is truly to secure the troubled region, limiting its military presence from their mutual ‘borders’, would seem a rather foolish policy. The Bedouin community has been warning Egypt of the growing danger on its border for many years:
”but no one listened to us,” the Sheikh said in reference to yesterday’s raid by a jihadist commando on an Egyptian border patrol barracks, which left 16 soldiers dead. The situation might drive Israel to occupy parts of northern Sinai, especially the el-Arish border access points, al-Maniei said. An Israeli military spokesman yesterday called the Sinai ”a great hothouse for the flowering of international terrorism.” And in that vacuum, you’re starting to see and residents complained that Islamist militants are finding a home. And they say a lot of the tribes up there that we spoke to in light of recent events are saying we’ve been begging for help, we’ve been begging for security, but the army hasn’t responded.1
Still, the barrage of analysts and commentators fail to ask the most important questions – such as, what is the history of ‘extremism’ in the region? Who are the groups present – what are their objectives, where are they from, and what are their ideologies? And, perhaps most importantly – why/were they allowed to flourish, unchecked for decades when violence and ‘terror’ was a easily foreseeable outcome.
If Securing the Sinai isn’t the Goal, then What is?
Since clear evidence as to who was responsible for the “Ramadan massacre” may never be forthcoming – as with any murder mystery, a good detectives strategy is to uncover motive. To analyze the motive, we can look first look at the fall out, of which three major policy developments have resulted. The first is the ever increasing and tightening of the illegal siege of Gaza, the second is the ‘major shakedown’ of the top military brass and key cabinet positions – and the third was the (at least limited/temporary) increase in the military’s presence. The first and second serve to uphold the status quo, which the Egyptian government was under attack for upholding (following which, now public criticism has largely disappeared). For the final fall out, of who will control the troubled region, long term – is perhaps the most important question of all.
Recent and regular statements made by Israeli officials, reflect that of former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt, Zvi Mazel, who following the attack stated: “If terrorism continues from Sinai to Gaza or from Sinai directly to Israel or from Sinai-Gaza-Israel, at a certain time at a certain point Israel will be forced to act, even to penetrate into Sinai, and it may change everything.” this standpoint, the whole charade begins to become much clearer to understand. This is why most outside observers conclude that none of the ‘extremist’ or other suspected groups had anything to gain by such an operation, besides Israel.
Map of “Greater Israel” Published by Radical Settler Movement
Israel’s declaration of independence, on May 14, 1948, makes no mention of the new state’s borders; it vaguely declares “the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.” Eretz-Israel is a Biblical term meaning the “Land of Israel,” the borders of which are variedly defined in Scripture. A maximalist interpretation would extend it from the Nile to the Euphrates.
Here, the Israeli settler movement published what it calls “the map of greater Israel.” Israel’s borders in the map include the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. You can see the map here.
“The settler movement quoted Rabbi Avrom Shmulevic of the Bead Artzein (“For the Homeland”) Movement as saying, “The process of national revival of the Jewish people is irreversible and has its internal logic. We shall have no peace as long as the whole territory of the country of Israel will not return under Jewish control. This might sound too hard, but such is the logic of history. The war on the Holy Land has been already fought for 4,000 years and the end cannot be seen. A stable peace will come only then, when Israel will return to itself all its historical lands, and will thus control both the Suez and the Ormudz channel. The state will find at last its geostrategic completeness. We must remember that Iraqi oil fields too are located on the Jewish land. This may seem utopia to many now – but an even greater utopia seemed a hundred years ago the revival of the Jewish state…If you want it, this will not be a fairy tale.” http://english.pnn.ps/index.php/national/2439-palestine-brief-palestinian-factions-condemn-sinai-attack-israeli-supreme-court-rejects-demands-for-torture-investigation-90000-jerusalemites-at-risk-of-forcible-displacement-by-israel
Once we remove the theatrics of so called experts, commentators and analysts, and focus on the basis and substance to which these attacks and expected responses by all the players, we can see the clear theme in place. This biblical pipe dream is in no way an unlikely goal, according to every Israeli leaders fantasy. Still pragmatism aside, there is every reason to believe zionists will risk everything to see just how far they can take it. So before the charade carries on any further, someone needs to yell “Cut!” and ask ourselves how we can contribute to returning Egypt back to its original owners, the Egyptian people.
1) Kidnapper: Why I nabbed two Americans in Egypt’s Sinai – The recent kidnappings in Egypt’s Sinai are not motivated by religious extremism or a desire for money, but a desperate desire to make the government listen to a marginalized group. Christian Science Monitor -By Kristen Chick, Correspondent / July 17, 2012