What happened in Sinai was not surprising regardless of how tragic it was. All previously available information predicted a terrorist act. Such information was at first leaked by some American sources indicating that a limited act and a limited reaction were expected in Sinai.
A few days ago, Israel asked its nationals to leave Sinai immediately. Prior to all of this, security reports from various internal and exterior sources were pointing out that Sinai has become a fertile soil for various terrorist groups.
Several media reports also established links between the Sinai attacks and the release of a number of individuals who had been imprisoned for involvement in acts of violence and terrorism.
The new Egyptian approach in dealing with these individuals and others who had fled the country during the Mubarak era was considered as providing appropriate ground for such groups to act, especially that most operations that occurred in Sinai or through Sinai were somehow treated with negligence, or even the secret blessing of political currents close to the ruling regime.
The acts of violence referred to here are the blowing up of the Gas pipeline to Israel 17 times, the Ilat operation, and the shooting on an Israeli convoy last June. Prior to that there was what came to be known as the “Islamic identity Friday” demonstration by Islamist groups, including the Takfir wal Hijra Group established in the 1970s as well as the Salafist Jihadist Organization, Ansar Al Jihad Organization, Black Banners Organization and the most recent Mujahideen Shura Council.
In addition to all the previously mentioned elements, there is a certain dimension that appears to be positive, i.e. the support of our brothers and sisters in Gaza. Nevertheless, such dimension holds a great danger on the national security of Egypt. As many may know, pressures on some state institutions are escalating from parties within the ruling regime in order to open the frontiers with Gaza under the pretext of supporting the Palestinian brethren. Many suggestions have been forwarded in this context calling for establishing common markets, open free zones, or the right for movement and property without any restrictions whatsoever for the people of Gaza in Egypt. However, there are still some reasonable people in Egyptian institutions who completely realize the danger such suggestion has on the Egyptian national security, or even on the whole future of the Palestinian cause and Palestine as well.
As such, these ideas were never completely implemented, but such pressures resulted in certain mobility in Sinai, and as far as I am concerned, claiming that the Egyptian government has Sinai under control may be subject to numerous doubts. Furthermore, the presence of Jihadist groups and smuggler groups on both sides of the borders has become more significant these days. I indicated in many previous articles during the past years that Sinai had the potential of being a time bomb that would explode within the Egyptian body at any time, or of being an added strength to the nation.
Either way, it all depended on how Sinai dealt with its problems. Such problems were, in fact, part of the last crime inflicted upon the people of Sinai, and hadn’t the circumstances been in favor of such crime and others, they would have never ever happened. The Egyptian people bid farewell to the Martyrs of Egypt. At such times, tribal concepts should fade away instead of being an opportunity to prove that the Egyptian regime belongs to some Egyptians only. The people of Egypt paid the price hard…so may the souls of our Martyrs be in heaven!
*Abdul Latif Minawi is an author and multimedia journalist and the former head of the news department at the Egyptian Radio and Television Union. He can be reached on @AlMenawy on Twitter