Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A failing state: In Sinai, the people protect the army

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Those living in Rafah have military forces responsible for securing the border at their doorsteps. While this should be extra protection for the locals, on Sunday, it was the locals who struggled to save the soldiers undergoing a brutal attack.

The failure to prevent an attack on a military checkpoint that unknown militants carried out and the slow response of both forces on the ground and officials stand as a staggering demonstration of the ongoing security vacuum in Sinai, Egypt’s strategic eastern gate.

While local media and politicians alike are dramatically mourning the deceased soldiers, slamming the terrorist playground that Sinai has reportedly become, there is little attention to the incumbent state failure in the peninsula, as manifest in this incident, locals say......

Those residing near the attack site and those who rushed to the scene to help the injured soldiers said they had to act on their own, and faced a lack of cooperation from military forces stationed at checkpoints set up every few miles inside Rafah.

Bassam Ouda, who was among the locals who transported the bodies of the soldiers to Rafah Hospital in their personal cars, said the military forces in nearby checkpoints refused to help them.....

Slow action on the ground was mirrored by similarly slow reactions on the official level.

President Mohamed Morsy only issued standard statements following the attack. After announcing a visit to Rafah, Morsy only went as far as Arish almost a day following the attack, and failed to show up to the soldiers’ military funeral, which took place Tuesday.....

A failing state

Many who witnessed the attack are saddened by the difference between the slow reaction on the Egyptian side and the swift reaction on the Israeli side, especially with reports in the Israeli paper Haaretz that Israeli officials had warned the Egyptian government of possible attacks. There are reports that Israel evacuated its citizens from the area two days in advance....."

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