THE TERRORIST OUTRAGE IN SINAI: A COMMENT
"Russia edged closer on Monday night to identifying a bomb as the cause for the plane crash on November 1 as Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister, tweeted that the disaster “may have been the result of a terrorist attack”. The acknowledgment, which was carried on Mr Medvedev’s English-language Twitter account but not the Russian-language one, marks a subtle shift from Moscow’s earlier line that, while no possible cause could be excluded, now is not the time to rush to conclusions. The move comes after senior US lawmakers said on Sunday that the Washington intelligence community was increasingly in agreement with UK suggestions that a bomb had brought down the plane".Kathrin Hille, "Russia edges towards bomb as cause of Sinai plane crash". The Financial Times. 9 November 2015, in www.ft.com.
"Since the army overthrew Morsi in 2013, Sisi has consolidated the power of the military and has expanded the role of military intelligence, which traditionally focused on ensuring the army's loyalty but has taken on a more central role. There are some indications of power struggles within the security services. And there remain serious morale problems within the police – in August strikes and protests by policemen over low, late pay ended with protesting policemen teargassed by riot police. Low pay for the frontline security officials could open up possibilities of corruption; it certainly does in other sectors, including education. Repression has become more heavy-handed than in the 2000s, linked to escalating violence: in June the public prosecutor was assassinated in Cairo, while in August, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed a car bomb at the Italian consulate. In Sinai since 2013, authorities say militants have killed several hundred police, while they have killed some 200 jihadis. But there is little transparency about this. In September, the military accidentally killed 12 tourists, some of them from Mexico, in airstrikes in the Sinai. The Mexican government said they received the news from a private tour operator, not from the Egyptian authorities. A military official told the New York Times that anything involving tourists was the business of the interior ministry, and advised the reporter not to ask more questions. The repression may feed radicalization. Sisi argues his approach is necessary given the security threats Egypt faces. But the authorities have defined terrorism so widely that it includes the previous party of government, the Muslim Brotherhood, while the liberal youth activists who led the 2011 uprising are typically now incarcerated or in exile. Over a thousand people were shot in the streets in 2013. Since then the judiciary has sentenced hundreds more to death, including Morsi. There are tens of thousands of political prisoners, as well as reports of disappearances and deaths in custody. Former political prisoners say the whole spectrum of the Egyptian opposition is represented in prison, and that morale is highest among the jihadis, who hear of victories outside, while the liberals are dejected, largely forgotten by the Western governments who briefly championed their cause and then moved on. Closing down avenues for peaceful politics risks strengthening the proponents of violence. This argument has to be handled carefully: the earlier massacre of British tourists by an ISIS affiliate in Tunisia − which is going through a democratic transition and includes Islamists in the governing coalition − indicates there is no simple correlation between repression and radicalization. Egyptian society is polarized over who is most responsible for the violence. But defining the terrorist threat as widely as Egypt’s government now does − to include a movement that won a majority of the popular vote in the 2013 elections − makes it harder to fight". Jane Kinninmont, "Metrojet Incident Spotlights Egypt’s Security Struggles". The Royal Institute of International Affairs. 9 November 2015, in www.chathamhouse.org The terrorist outrage that occurred over the skies of the Egypt's Sinai Peninsula demonstrate anew that the particular course undertaken by Egypt's current military regime leave a lot to be desired. It is not merely that the regime is indiscriminately brutal, what appears to worse, indeed much worse is that it is also not particular competent in its allegedly core goal of providing Egypt with increased security. As the breakdown of order in early to mid-2011 has not, in the case of the Sinai Peninsula been rectified as of yet. Hence the ability of extreme Islamic militants to attack, sometimes indiscriminately but successfully, military and police stations in the area. Indeed it is almost a case that in x-percentage of the peninsula ordinary 'law and order' have completely disappeared. Accordingly, the breach of security which made the bombing of the Russian jet liner successful is part and parcel of this near breakdown. Unless and until the Egyptian authorities are able to remedy the current state of affairs, by greatly improving both its ordinary security on the ground and its intelligence as to the goings on of the Islamic militants, look for a Algeria scenario with its tens if not hundreds of thousands of people killed. Given this alternative, I for one would hope that the regime in Cairo would reconsider its policies towards the more moderate elements of the opposition. Both religious and secular. Before it is too late. As I foresaw back in early July 2013, prior to the overthrow of the Morsi Government:
"The fact is that however stupid and narrow-minded is the [Muslim] Brotherhood, it does represent a considerable element in Egypt's political landscape. A policy of overthrow by the military, especially one as politically maladroit as Egypts is only at the very best a short-term solution. The Algerian example of the late 1980's gives us a good idea as to what may occur if the Brotherhood is simply ousted from power". 11. "EGYPT: ONCE AGAIN ON THE BRINK?" Diplomat of the Future. 1 July 2013, in www.diplomatofthefuture.blogspot.com