Friday,20 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1355, (3-9 August 2017)
Friday,20 July, 2018
Issue 1355, (3-9 August 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Protecting the state

اقرأ باللغة العربية

Addressing the Fourth National Youth Conference in Alexandria last week, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi underscored the need to steady the keel of the Egyptian state in the face of dangers that have risen against it for more than six years and that are likely to persist for years to come. The Egyptian vision, today, is informed by investigations undertaken by security agencies into dangerous elements and terrorist groups, which are apprehended on an almost daily basis in diverse locations in Egypt and that include members of the terrorist Hasm (Resolve) cell. The investigations confirm not only how dangerous the extremist groups are, but also that the attacks against Egypt are an ongoing systematic process that ultimately seek to destroy the Egyptian state and are supported by certain powers that the international community is unable — due to various balances and equations — to prevent from funding terrorism. Many of the designs that the Muslim Brotherhood carries out inside Egypt and elsewhere are formulated in accordance with instructions issued by terrorist leaders abroad with the purpose of triggering mass anarchy, to which testify innumerable examples.

An obvious and logical opportunity was at hand to counter groups operating outside the state — along with the governments and individuals that back them — if only world powers had summoned the necessary will to act effectively. Unfortunately, developments in the crisis with Qatar indicate that the particular calculations made by the world capitals that have the greatest influence on international decision-making centres continue to outweigh repeated warnings about the dangerous proliferation of those groups in the Middle East. Egypt, today, is particularly concerned by the prospects of IS mercenaries leaving Syria and Iraq. As experts say, eliminating IS in Syria and Iraq does not mean that that bloodthirsty organisation will be entirely eliminated. On the contrary, it means that it could potentially spread to other areas, most notably Libya, from where the forces of terrorism would home in primarily on Egypt which they regard as a prime target. Egypt is further concerned by the spread of “lone wolf” operations undertaken by individuals who ideologically affiliate themselves with those organisations, as has already occurred in many Western cities. It is little wonder, therefore, that the questions that most preoccupy us now at both the domestic and regional level have to do with the situation after the liberation of Mosul, in Iraq, and Raqqa and its environs in Syria. One is particularly struck by the fact that there are not very many IS “POWs”. According to available information, only around 250 IS operatives have been apprehended in Iraq. Where are the 30,000 fighters that made up IS forces in Iraq alone, according to the testimonies of US experts? What about the ones who were fighting in Syria?

With regard to the Egyptian case, some experts have described developments in Sinai as a model of how terrorist activities unfold: “a fertile environment in which everyone is afraid to talk openly about the problem even though it is staring them in the face.” More ominously, it appears that the most notorious terrorist organisation in the world today has come to favour a modus operandi that has been termed “possible terrorism”: it has no need for cadres, or sleeping cells, or fighters arriving from abroad; it merely requires individuals who subscribe to IS ideas and its notion of a caliphate and who practise “jihad” by whatever means available, including running over people with trucks, stabbing them with knives, or drive-by shootings. All these tactics and styles have been tried out in Egypt and in Western countries in recent months.

Over the past few weeks, Egypt has intensified its calls in international fora for definitive stances against terrorism. The most recent was a speech by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri at the EU in which he spoke about Egypt’s resolve, the sacrifices it has made and the difficulties it has had to overcome. Egypt faces a magnitude of terrorism about which the US and Europe may know greater detail by means of their powerful agencies and numerous means for intelligence gathering, he said, adding that there is no longer any alternative but for influential world powers to take a resolute stance against Islamist groups that are proficient at incitement and murder.

The opportunity is still available for international coordination to help targeted countries such as Egypt confront the forces of terrorism. It is essential for the international community to summon the will in order to confront the ongoing danger that sinks its clutches into a country as it works to undermine society’s ability to resist by sabotaging its resources and capacities.

add comment

  • follow us on