Unanswered questions on Sinai

Abdel Latif el-Menawy
Abdel Latif el-Menawy
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Sinai's problems have certainly not been resolved. What we can agree on is that problems are mounting in the peninsula. What could have been resolved before has become a thornier issue and extremely difficult to resolve. This is down to an impulsive manner which has been adopted by the government when dealing with national security issues - a manner that has increased problems and further complicated them.

The extreme decline in concern over in what is happening in Sinai, in addition to leaving it as prey for "terrorist" groups, is the beginning of the collapse of the state's authority over Sinai.

The reasons for this collapse are not only the security problems that Sinai suffers from; nor are they a product of leaving Sinai's doors wide open for extremist groups reveling in it anyway they want, or considering it Gaza's garden instead of considering it an important part of Egyptian land that Egyptians scarified their blood to regain.

The major reason is the style of governance adopted towards this issue ever since the current government assumed power. Under the current regime, Sinai has become a hotbed for the world's terrorists and a safe haven for anyone escaping pursuit. The world's terrorists rushed to go to Sinai considering it as the Caliphate state that the Brotherhood granted them.

The crisis is not limited to this. But Sinai has become a permanent and stable residence and so, old as well as new jihadi and al-Qaeda groups that we've heard of before, begin to spread. Borders on the other side were opened for their Islamist extremist and jihadi relatives to reside in Sinai doing whatever they want, attacking Egyptian police and army, kidnapping their members and also killing them.

It is certain that the current situation, after soldiers were kidnapped by "terrorist" groups raises a lot of questions, condemnations and interpretations. These questions must be answered. It is not acceptable to consider this abduction as an expression of the suffering of Sinai's people and a reflection of their chronic problems because this suffering and these problems had already existed before but they have never reached this extent of kidnapping soldiers.

The second issue is that Sinai's people disagree with the general logic of resorting to abduction for the sake of having the state meet their demands even when it came to demands of releasing their family members. Ever since explosions in Dahab, Taba and Sharm al-Sheikh and the detentions that followed of people from Sinai, residents of the latter protested to call for the release of their family members but the situation did not escalate to resorting to abduction. Another thing is that those whom demands are being made to release are not those who have been arrested without evidence against them in the case of the armed attempt to raid a police station in el-Arish, as they've previously said.

Another point that raises questions is that the current regime has not taken a single positive step that confirms its commitment to reach a solution or address the problems in Sinai. On the contrary, its behavior has always been one that raises a lot of suspicions regarding the extent of the regime's holding on to Sinai or regarding the regime's concern in resolving its residents' problems. and not resolving other problems at the expanse of Sinai and its people. This raises further questions that must be answered as well.

What is the current regime's political stance regarding the destruction of the Gaza tunnels? Why hasn't there been a single political stance that confirms commitment and desire to destroy these tunnels especially since there is no justification for them anymore with the permanent opening of the Rafah border?

Why hasn't there been one clear stance regarding the mechanism of the operation to hunt down "terrorist" groups in Sinai? What is the real role of the Islamist movements in the dialogues that they speak of with jihadi groups? Has this style of launching dialogue been agreed on before and met with political and popular support?

The most important question is why hasn't a single politician affiliated with the regime stood up to tell the Egyptians who killed the soldiers in the month of Ramadan last year and why were they killed? The most important of condemnations is linked to accepting to negotiate with the abductors and to the commitment of he who holds the presidency office to seriously look into their demands. Whom are these negotiations being held with? Who accepts to pave way for negotiations with "terrorists? Who is holding these negotiations and why?

My final question is: Will these negotiations prompt anyone who has a problem with the state to kidnap a policeman or a soldier to get what he wants?


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

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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