Paving the Egyptian road with a shovel and a rifle

What the Egyptian army is doing in Sinai has relieved Egyptians and assured them that their sons are capable of protecting their borders and deterring any state, organization or group plotting to harm Egyptian territories. Egyptians must have been reassured when they saw president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi visit soldiers and check on them, conveying a very important message as he wore his military uniform. They must have also been reassured when they heard him say on Saturday that the soldiers present in Sinai represent only 1% of the Egyptian army, in response to statements that the entire army has been involved in Sinai and that its capabilities are being drained. This is a psychological war that must not affect the people’s unity.

The Egyptians are aware that there is a war being led against them and that the state is using its entire apparatus to combat terrorism which is arming itself with strong media outlets, propaganda campaigns and exploitation of social media networks in order to spread fear and desperation. The Egyptian army, however, confronted this by stating facts and responding to all misleading reports.

The Egyptians are also aware that this war is protracted and will not end overnight and that it will require time until we can win it. Some may think the solution is to resume raids and shell militias in Sinai until the last standing terrorist desecrating Sinai is eliminated. However there’s actually a second path that we must also take in order to eradicate terrorism and extremism and that is the path of progress, construction and work for a better future and for fighting ignorance and poverty which helped create all this extremism and allowed extremist parties to brainwash and recruit people.

The solution is development and construction. The revolutionary spirit we need is a revolution against bureaucracy, administrative obstacles and attempts to discourage investments. Terrorism aims to take the country backwards and these obstacles are preventing Egypt from progressing and are thus powerful factors that help terrorism achieve its destructive aims.

I believe that president Sisi is aware of Egypt’s need for development as we’ve recently heard of governmental meetings in regards to developing Sinai. He’s also aware that the real war is that of construction. However the government and executive administrations must operate as a factor that helps and facilitates the construction process and must not be an obstacle in the path of a better future.

Turn wishes into visions

The current aim is to turn these wishes into visions and to then transform these visions into executable plans and then provide the necessary tools to implement them. The most important step is to work on eliminating the real obstacles which are preventing the country from going forward.

Planting real hope among people is the way to salvation. Some say the best defense is a good offense, and I say that in our case, the best means to confront terrorism is to actively progress, and this can be achieved by creating a real developmental atmosphere where the Egyptians’ motive is the hope for a better future.

Maybe we must all borrow the slogan “One hand builds and the other holds arms” and let it shine our way as this is the real path to defending Egypt’s present and future and it’s the only way for Sinai, and rather the entire of Egypt, to become free of terrorism and extremism. There’s no solution except by building but we must pave the way for this and facilitate the building process for whoever wants to help us as this is the only way to move forward.

This article was first published in al-Jarida. 

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

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.