I don’t see a better way to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, which was marked on May 15, 1948, than by calling for the liberation of Egypt’s Sinai.
This statement requires explanation, so I call on you not to jump to conclusions or understand it anyway you like before I clarify what I mean. Some may be surprised if they know that this statement was inspired by Egyptian defense minister Abdel Fattah al-Sissi's speech to military men and journalists who witnessed last week the end of what was called "inspection procedures" for one of the armored formations in the central area. He said that developing units and formations and increasing their fighting competencies' rates is being carried out at unprecedented rates in a manner that guarantees them the ability to confront challenges and be loyal to the tasks assigned to them on the level of protecting the country.
Many noticed that Sissi delivered two messages in his speech. One of them emphasized the efforts made to raise the fighting competencies of the armed forces after they were rearmed according to the most modern fighting systems. In the second message, he made sure to confirm that the army will not intervene in any political affair and that politicians must reach an agreement formula amongst one another because calls to summon the army to intervene is tantamount to playing with fire and because such calls may stop the country's progress for a period that may range between 30 to 40 years.
Sinai is Egypt’s weakness
The Egyptian public opinion was distorted during the recent decades as former presidents Sadat and Mubarak succeeded in deforming the image of Sinai as they convinced many people that the Palestinians, and not the Israelis, are the ones who represent a threat to Sinai.Dr. Fahmy Howeidy
Amidst all this, there is no escape from admitting that the situation in Sinai is a major weakness point in the Egyptian stance following the revolution. This weakness had placed Egypt in an embarrassing situation that tied its hands in a manner that harms its sovereignty and threatens its national security. This harms the country's dignity after its people revolted and scarified with their lives to protect it and defend it.
I am aware that a peace treaty has an international formula and that its link to power balances in the region is strong and therefore we are forced to be patient when it comes to that. But the part which minimizes Egyptian sovereignty over Sinai (which article four of the agreement states) has become a burden on Egyptian national security to the point where it has become difficult to remain silent regarding it. This is not only because the state authority's hands are tied when it comes to a part of its land but because the absence of authority there has resulted in abnormal circumstances that allowed the establishment of terrorist and criminal zones that threaten Egypt's security and safety. It is no longer acceptable that Sinai be torn apart into three areas in which the weak Egyptian military presence varies. It is also shameful that around 80,000 soldiers and 1000 tanks cross the canal during the 1974 War and then have President Sadat agree after the "victory" to withdraw them all, except for 7000 soldiers and 30 tanks, towards the west of the canal as per the disengagement agreement.
It is also no longer acceptable to prohibit Egypt from establishing any airports or military ports in the entire of Sinai. What is both sad and suspicious is that the nearest Israeli tank stands three kilometers away from the Egyptian border whilst he nearest Egyptian tank stands 150 kilometers away from the same point.
This is what the study prepared by engineer Mohamed Saif al-Dawla - an expert on the matter - warned of. He also warned of the presence of the foreign forces that the U.S. leads in Sinai and which Egypt is not allowed to request withdrawing unless there is a collective approval from the U.N. Security Council's permanent members. These forces are linked to the NATO, and the number of its soldiers is 2000. These forces originally observe Egypt whilst there are 50 civil personnel observing the Israeli side.
There are many details regarding this issue, and they all state that the situation in Sinai represents a stain that imposed a gap in the fort of Egypt's national security. One must not remain silent about this following the revolution and this cannot be dealt with before Egypt regains its political and military well-being.
One of the paradoxes is that the Egyptian public opinion was distorted during the recent decades as former presidents Sadat and Mubarak's mouthpieces succeeded in deforming the image in Sinai as they convinced many people that the Palestinians and not the Israelis are the ones who represent a threat to Sinai. There was a rumor that became famous in Egypt and that claims that the Palestinians aspire to expand towards Sinai and settle in it and eventually join it with Gaza. Those making these claims have forgotten three major issues.
The first one is that president Gamal Abdelnassar has made this suggestion in 1953 when he thought the Americans had good intents and that they will help him in naturalizing the Palestinians in North West of Sinai. There is a report on that published by Palestinian researcher Hassan Abu al-Naml. It was published in a book issued by the Liberation Organization's research center in 1978. The report was prepared by the permanent council for national production in Egypt in cooperation with UNRWA. It was printed on July 28, 1955. Veteran Palestinian researcher Abdelqader Yassine, who lived throughout that phase, brought this report to my attention. Yassine remembers that back then, Abdelnasser's idea was met by the Palestinians' extreme rejection and that a Palestinian delegation that includes representatives of the brotherhood, communists and independents visited him and convinced him to let go of the idea.
The second point is that the Israelis occupied Sinai twice. They first occupied it after the 1956 aggression and they occupied it again after the 1967 War. They stayed there around 15 years. During this time, borders between Gaza and Sinai were open. Thus it was very easy for the Palestinians to expand in Sinai and settle in it. However, they did not do so although there were no obstructions preventing them and they held on to staying in their country, their grandfathers' land.
The third point is that naturalizing Palestinians permanently in Sinai is an idea which source is Israel. It was never suggested in a Palestinian scheme or plan. Academic researchers know well that Israeli politicians have always wished that they resolve their problem with the Palestinians by transferring them to any place on earth. They have suggested some Latin American countries for that purpose, thus one must not be taken by surprise if Sinai is suggested as well since it is the closest geographic point in addition to the fact that its area can easily fit them.