Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1237, (12 - 18 March 2015 )
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1237, (12 - 18 March 2015 )

Ahram Weekly

Conference safety

Security forces are on full alert ahead of Egypt’s economic summit, reports Ahmed Morsy

Sharm El-Sheikh
Sharm El-Sheikh
Al-Ahram Weekly

“The Interior Ministry will be acting in coordination with the army to secure the 13 to 15 March economic summit,” said Interior Minister Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar on Saturday, two days after taking his oath of office.

Delegations from 60 countries and more than 1,000 businessmen are expected to participate in the three-day summit in Sharm Al-Sheikh.

Abdel-Ghaffar stressed that the military and police forces will be working together to ensure the summit passes without incident.

“The security plan that has been put in place requires all security bodies to work together while respecting human rights and the dignity of Egyptian citizens,” he said.

The Interior Ministry has placed all its departments on the highest alert and holidays of all security personnel have been cancelled till the conference ends.

“Security plans are not limited to Sharm Al-Sheikh but include all governorates, though of course Sharm will be the focus of the most intense security measures,” an Interior Ministry source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

More than 5,000 policemen and soldiers from the Second and Third Armies are being deployed during the conference. Armoured vehicles will monitor all roads in and out of Sharm.

There have been press reports that the Presidential Guard will take charge of the conference venue two days before delegates arrive in order to fully secure the premises.

“Security measures are in place to prevent any attacks. A new car licence number recognition system has been introduced, along with the latest bomb detection technology,” said the source.

According to South Sinai’s security director, General Hatem Amin, 260 surveillance cameras have been installed in the streets of the coastal city. “The cameras, which will provide 24-hour monitoring, are directly linked to the system and operations room of South Sinai Security Directorate,” says Amin.

Police and army personnel have been targeted by militant jihadist groups since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group, has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks against security targets.

“The exchange of intelligence between all security bodies is key to the success of the security plan,” military expert General Hossam Sweilam told the Weekly.

“Funding to terrorist cells is being tracked and the plans of the Muslim Brotherhood international organisation systematically thwarted. Information gathering is central to pre-emptive security strikes.”

Commentators believe the appointment of the head of the National Security Agency as interior minister will strengthen the information-gathering capacity of Egypt’s security forces. Abdel-Ghaffar replaces Mohamed Ibrahim, who has been appointed to the post of security advisor to the prime minster.

Within 24 hours of being appointed, Abdel-Ghaffar changed the heads of the Interior Ministry’s departments of economic security, social security, general security, national security and prisons. The heads of the Cairo, Giza, Assiut, Qena and Gharbeya governorate security directorates were also replaced.

“The reshuffle was not a hasty action,” insists Sweilam. “Abdel-Ghaffar was told about his appointment ten days before it was made public. This gave him time to plan the changes before taking office.”

The reshuffle within the ministry is being seen as a sign of Abdel-Ghaffar’s determination to strengthen the security services.

Egypt has seen an increase in the number of bomb attacks, though the majority remain minor incidents. Of growing concern, however, is the recent spike in bombs targeting civilians rather than police or security personnel.

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