Monday,23 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1149, 23 - 29 May 2013
Monday,23 July, 2018
Issue 1149, 23 - 29 May 2013

Ahram Weekly

Save Sinai

Doaa El-Bey writes on Cairo’s inability to free or even find seven kidnapped soldiers, and Gamal Nkrumah relates the history of the Syrian opposition

Save Sinai
Save Sinai
Al-Ahram Weekly

Newspapers followed the developments in the kidnapping of seven soldiers in the Sinai, and the reaction of the parties involved.

Al-Youm Al-Sabei on Tuesday had ‘Armoured vehicles stationed in Al-Goura Square in Sinai ahead of military operation’.

Al-Shorouk on Monday quoted President Morsi as saying ‘Kidnappers are criminals, no negotiations with them’. Al-Tahrir on Sunday had ‘Failure pursues the presidency, army and interior minister in the scandal of Sinai kidnappings’. Al-Wafd stated ‘Army is moving to Sinai and Morsi asks for an ultimatum!’ Al-Akhbar wrote in its banner on Sunday ‘Army is ready to free hostages… swapping them for prisoners not possible’.

Writers looked into the impact of the kidnapping on the state. Galal Aref wrote that last year when 16 soldiers were killed in Rafah, President Morsi said that he would lead an operation to purge the Sinai region of terrorism and regain control of its land. However, weeks later, the operations stopped because of presidential orders and Sinai was transformed to an area that is out of control of the state.

Then the Sinai kidnappings, Aref added, came to prove that the area is lost and the regime is not bothered. He regarded the presidential reaction to the kidnapping as further proof of his argument. The first presidential statement after the incident stated that the presidency is keen to find the kidnapped and kidnappers.

“In the past, we talked about the danger in Sinai. Now we talk about complete deterioration. It is now run by gangs and militias. In response to the kidnapping, officials can do nothing but negotiate with the kidnappers and get ready to make concessions,” Aref wrote in his regular column in the independent daily Al-Tahrir.

The kidnappings reflect a few factors that the writer underlined, namely that terrorism has become an inseparable part of the system that is being imposed on Egypt; the regime surrendered to the situation in Sinai and left the peninsula for terrorist gangs to control it; the state is deteriorating and the danger is not only confined to Sinai but to the whole of Egypt as well.

The only way to save Egypt, Aref summed up, is to abort the present regime.

Mohamed Ali Kheir wrote that the kidnapping disclosed a few facts, namely that the state has lost its status, there is noticeable confusion in the policies of the decision makers and that people have no fear of strong official reaction to such an action. After all, 16 soldiers were killed last Ramadan and nobody moved to arrest the killers.

Kheir raised questions in his column in the independent daily Al-Shorouk: is there a covert conflict between the presidency and the army, what is Hamas’s relationship to the kidnappings, is there any link between the kidnappings and the Rafah killings and whether there are special arrangements to separate Sinai from the rest of the country.

“We should not ignore the fact that there is a chronic and pressing crisis in Sinai. It was caused by years of neglect under Mubarak and aggravated during the last two years during which Sinai has become a venue for Jihadi and terrorist gangs and weapons,” Kheir wrote.

He concluded by calling on officials to save Sinai before it is lost.

Said Al-Shahat said that the kidnappings should be linked to other scenes like the killing of 16 soldiers and officers in Rafah during Iftar in Ramadan followed by the kidnappings of three soldiers, then killing three officers in the police station in Arish. In all these incidents, the officials did not find the perpetrators. That led to the corrosion of the status of the state.

When soldiers are killed, Al-Shahat explained, and the killers are not found, others are encouraged to commit similar crimes. When the mystery of kidnapping one soldier in not resolved, it sends a message to others to carry out similar kidnappings.

“One cannot separate what happened in Sinai from killing revolutionary youth or from the Brotherhood plan to monopolise state institutions, or from the silly insistence on issuing a law on the judicial authority without consulting judges,” Al-Shahat wrote in the independent daily Al-Youm Al-Sabei.

These factors are all indications of the absence of the state, Al-Shahat summed up his column.

Writers also followed the activities of Tamarod or the rebel campaign which aims to gather some 30 million authorisations to withdraw confidence from Morsi.

Gamal Al-Ghitani regarded Tamarod as another sign of the creativity of the Egyptians. He compared Tamarod to another campaign before the 1919 revolution in which Egyptians gathered signatures to authorise the Egyptian delegation to speak in the name of all Egyptians in their negotiations with the British rulers of Egypt to ask for Egypt’s independence.

The sit-in in Tahrir Square was another proof of Egyptian creativity, according to the writer. The 18-day sit in, Al-Ghitani wrote, was a sign of pure Egyptian creativity born at the spur of the moment.

“Tamarod is a reflection of the public anger that has overwhelmed society as a result of the static situation in which all hope for genuine change has been lost,” he wrote in the official daily Al-Akhbar.

He concluded his column by wondering whether Tamarod would be able to change the present situation.

Magdi Sarhan suggested that Tamarod can take another track. He started his article in the opposition daily Al-Wafd, the mouthpiece of the opposition Wafd Party by stating that the movement has entered the road of no return. However, it is not important at this phase to question the legality of the movement and whether it is a democratic and peaceful pressure tool.

But it is useful, he added, to think of the value and mechanism to use millions of signatures to reach the desired target: early presidential elections. Those responsible for that campaign know that they are required to find the legal basis upon which they can reach their target.

In that context the writer questioned whether gathering millions of signatures would be the aim of the campaign or whether it is better to correct its path. He suggested that the campaign should aim to gather legal and registered authorisations that aim at questioning and charging the president with political corruption and disrespect for the promise he gave to his people.

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