The treacherous operation that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai in the holy month of Ramadan last year was not surprising to some prominent authority officials, as was said back then.
Before the incident, there were leaks that reached high-ranking officials within the authority at least two weeks before the operation was carried out. These leaks said an operation on the borders was being planned. According to the leaks, the operation will kill a number of Egyptians, and a "limited" Israeli response will follow but it will be overlooked by Egypt.
The leaks added that this incident will be exploited to embarrass the army and push it out of the circle of political action. Two weeks following this information, the operation that killed our soldiers was carried out. The incident was exploited as we saw and the army command was gotten rid of. After this move, the Brotherhood launched its continuous attempts to control the army. However, the Brotherhood failed to do so because of the armed forces' new command's firm stance. So far, the new command has confronted the Brotherhood's attempts with great patriotism and wit.
The army’s political influence
After the soldiers were killed in Ramadan, the first thing the government did was push the army towards the battle in Sinai. Back then, some analyzed this move as one aiming to deprive the army of political influence and push it towards a clash with groups that were once allied with the Brotherhood. But it's okay to get rid of these groups - if possible - through the army. This at least guarantees involving the army in the swamp of fighting terrorism. This is similar to previous attempts aiming to alter the army's combat doctrine and priorities, in which fighting terrorism falls first.
So, after the incident in Ramadan, the military operation in Sinai began. It seems that the army command realized the risks it was being pushed towards and that contradict with the military institution's stances. So, the army command's operation focused on besieging the terrorists, arresting them and handing them over to the political authority to perform its duties. Army forces made sure to carry out the operation with the least number of victims. It seems that this was not met by the Brotherhood's satisfaction. The ruling party realized that this embarrasses it in front of its allies. The result was that the operation was halted. The presidency institution began marketing ideas of dialogue and reconciliation with these "terrorist" groups. Allow me to note that the term "terrorist" is my own description. The institutions of the Brotherhood's state never described these groups as terrorist. The presidency institution, which is linked to the Brotherhood, did not describe the incident in which soldiers were killed as a terrorist act. It described it as a "criminal" act.
Therefore, what was issued by the presidency after soldiers were recently kidnapped was not surprising. The statement said that President Mursi made emphasized that efforts are underway to release the soldiers and maintain the lives of both, the kidnapped and the kidnappers. Yes, maintain the lives of the kidnappers. A presidential spokesperson tried to explain the latter statement two days after the statement was made. One of his friends asked him about it. He responded with: "This statement must be clearly (understood) that a hostage cannot be (treated equally) like a kidnapper.”
The result of political efforts has not appeared yet by the time of writing this article. But whatever the situation is after this article is published, there are clear present facts despite all attempts to conceal them. One of the most important of facts is that what happened and what may happen is a series of attempts to involve the army in trouble and engage it in a crisis that allows the Brotherhood to control it, rehabilitate it and alter its combat doctrine according to what suits its goals. The least the Brotherhood wants is to place the army in a tense bloody relation with an important segment of the Egyptian people. This is tantamount to keeping the army busy and neutralizing it when it comes to the aspect of it being a power capable of altering the political formula in any suitable moment.
Another important point is that the Brotherhood and the presidency have not until now issued a clear statement that condemns these groups and describes them as terrorists. On the contrary, the Brotherhood members and followers insist to call them as jihadists. I don't recall that Mursi or other Brotherhood official ever described these groups with what they really are. There is rather a clear extent of hypocrisy reigning over the relation between them. What can also be noticed is that the Brotherhood and its people in different state institutions said they "did not mind" that the army launches a military operation. Their entire statements have always been void of a clear condemnation of the terrorist act. The man who used to make a record number speeches and statements kept silent and even deprived us of his tweets.
It is also acceptable to exploit this incident to request "uniting" behind the political leadership. Those affiliated with the Brotherhood attempted to market and exploit the situation to achieve political aims that serve the Brotherhood's interests. We thus have the right to ask: Who made Sinai a refuge for terrorists? Isn't it the leadership that welcomed them to violate Egypt's sanctity? And today, the leadership does not even dare describe what they really are!
It does not seem that there is any concern other than the concern to place the army in an embarrassing situation - a situation that is not dissimilar than the incident of the murder of soldiers and an incident which a number of leaders knew may happen. It is also similar to the state of complete disregard of the Egyptians' desire to know who killed our soldiers and similar to the state's and the Brotherhood's concern to conceal the results of the investigation. This allowed news to spread on several websites stating that some of the Brotherhood youths are involved in the abduction. Some of this news specified that three of the abductors are Brotherhood members. But ignoring this type of news has always been the case!
*This article was written hours before the release of the kidnapped security personnel, however my opinion still stands on the situation in Sinai.
Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of "Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak," a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy