More than a year into the job, security remains Sisi's biggest challenge

Egyptian students of al-Azhar university run for cover from a tear gas canister fired by riot police during clashes outside their university campus in Cairo. (File photo: AFP)

A recent wave of anti-government attacks in Egypt, which has killed dozens and wounded many more, has underscored a continuing security challenge confronting President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

The attacks, which the government often blames on Islamist groups, have left many wondering about the effectiveness of the security forces in safeguarding the country.

Prominent activist Alaa Abdel Fatah mocked the security forces, and said they were not able to ensure security.

“When should we expect to hear that Falcon - a security firm - is in charge of securing Sinai?” he tweeted.

Falcon, which was hired by the Education Ministry to oversee the gates of dozens of universities across Egypt, withdrew its personnel from the entrances of three Cairo-based universities after clashes broke out.

Some analysts echo Abdel Fatah’s opinion, saying Sisi has failed in his mission to secure Egypt, and more violence can be expected.

“In the year since Sisi entered the presidential palace,” security and stability “weren’t achieved,” Yoram Meital, Middle East professor and chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies, told Al Arabiya News.

Confrontations between security forces and militant groups have increased, and are “far from over,” he said.

Meital added that the state’s failure over security was mainly due to its inability to differentiate between Islamist extremists such as those operating in the Sinai Peninsula, and Islamist political parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sisi’s government has jailed thousands of Brotherhood members and declared the party a terrorist organization.

Meital said: “Putting all the regime’s rivals in one basket and describing them as terrorists isn’t a recipe for restoring security in Egypt today. Prerequisites for achieving stability are national reconciliation and inclusive policies.”

Optimism

Some analysts say Sisi has fulfilled his mission in restoring security. This month, the German ambassador described Egypt as “one of the few countries enjoying stability in the region,” Daily News Egypt reported, citing an Interior Ministry statement.

In October, Moody’s Investors Service changed Egypt’s outlook from negative to stable due to the “stabilized political and security situation.”

Sisi recently appointed a new security advisor, and ordered the organization of training courses for security forces to enhance their effectiveness and skills.

Egyptian security affairs specialist Mohssen al-Faham told Al Arabiya News that “Sisi has successfully managed to bring back security to the country,” and that the president would soon be “fully in control” of the Sinai.

An attack in the peninsula that killed more than 30 soldiers led Sisi to review his Interior Ministry plan to prevent militant attacks nationwide.

He also ordered the closure of the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip, and a curfew in the area from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. for three months.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
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