Thursday, August 9, 2012

Egypt's Sinai problem won't be solved with air strikes

Mubarak exploited Sinai and left 50% of Bedouins living in poverty. The new leaders mustn't just focus on sealing off Gaza

Fawaz Gerges, Wednesday 8 August 2012

"In response to last week's border attack in the Sinai peninsula which murdered 16 Egyptian soldiers, today Egyptian military attack helicopters fired missiles on suspected Islamist militants in Sinai, reportedly killing 20. The air strikes on Tumah village – the military's first in Sinai since Egypt's 1973 war with Israel – were carried out as security forces massed near Rafah on the Palestinian Gaza border for what they called a decisive confrontation with the militants.

Without addressing Sinai's severe social challenges, particularly a widespread feeling of neglect, discrimination and disfranchisement among its Bedouin population, the army's tactics might exacerbate an already dangerous situation.....

President Mohamed Morsi and the ruling generals had hoped to postpone the inevitable – rethinking Egypt's security architecture via Israel and the United States after the ouster of Mubarak, who collaborated with Israel in imposing its blockade of Gaza and acted as Washington's man in the region. They can no longer afford to do so.

The challenge facing the new Egyptian leadership is to construct a post-Mubarak order that prioritises human security broadly defined. That means economic development at home and a political strategy that empowers citizens and local communities, not crony capitalists......"

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