Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1366, (26 October - 1 November 2017)
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1366, (26 October - 1 November 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Western Desert attack

Last week’s terrorist attack in the Western Desert triggered shock and sorrow in Egypt and around the world because of the number of dead it claimed among members of our police forces and the nature of the confrontation against extremists in a mountainous region 150 kilometres south of the capital. This was not the first time Egyptian security forces have battled terrorist groups in that area. 

According to the latest reports, security forces are in the process of combing the desert areas while government agencies are studying the situation in the western part of the country that has experienced increasing infiltration attempts by terrorist groups following the intensification of clampdowns against them in Libya. 

The position of the Egyptian political leadership on the matter is clear. In an expanded security meeting Sunday, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi pledged to exert every effort to apprehend the terrorists who perpetrated the attack and to intensify security and military measures to seal Egyptian borders against terrorist infiltration. The president also stressed that Egypt will continue the fight against the funders of terrorism with all resolve until the phenomenon is eliminated. 

Tightening security along the more than 1,000 kilometres-long Egyptian-Libyan border is among the nation’s highest immediate priorities. However, Egypt cannot undertake this task alone, without international cooperation in curbing the terrorist threat emanating from the violent extremist groups in eastern Libya. During the commemorative ceremony for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Alamein, President Al-Sisi spoke of the grave crises imperilling the nation state in the Middle East and posing unprecedented risks to the security, peace and capacities of the region’s peoples who are aspiring for stability and a better life. Western officials present at the commemoration of one of the most famous battles of World War II expressed their solidarity with Egypt in the defence of the values of freedom, peaceful coexistence and democracy against the forces of terrorism, which one senior Western diplomat described as “the new enemy who is the face of a new kind of evil”. But such sentiments need to be translated into actual practice in order to ensure that groups like the Islamic State do not resurge and proliferate and threaten all nations in the Middle East.

As President Al-Sisi has observed, the nature of the war against terrorism is totally different from conventional warfare. In the course of the past few years, the Armed Forces and police have succeeded in sparing their country the fates of other countries where terrorism proliferated. They have succeeded in restoring stability and security, and in closing in on and routing out terrorist groups. This mission should be crowned with success in the near future as the result of concerted efforts at home with support from the international community and especially the powers concerned with the Middle East. The magnitude of human losses in last week’s incident underscores how important it is for all parties to work together in this fight. A country such as Egypt should not be expected to stand alone as it battles terrorist groups on several fronts, especially given that Egyptians played no part in the rise of such groups, which are the product of the confused policies of international and regional powers that exploited, at the worst possible time, the chaos precipitated by the Arab Spring revolutions.

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