Monday, August 13, 2012

What Is Egypt Really Doing In The Sinai--And When Do They Intend To Pull Out?

As I've written about before, there are discrepancies in the claim Egypt is pursuing terrorists in the Sinai and that Reuters reported that Sinai residents contradict claims of Egyptian operations and successes.

Now Agence France-Presse (AFP) has also taken notice that something odd seems to be going on in the Sinai as Egypt claims success for Sinai operations that were never carried out:
The military and police have already boasted successes, claiming the killing of 20 militants in air strikes -- the first in the Sinai for decades -- and the arrest of six "terrorists."

But the claims meet with scepticism from villagers who charge that the security forces missed their elusive quarry, who simply melted away into the vast mountainous desert.

Instead the security forces resorted to the arbitrary tactics of the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak, fanning longstanding grievances against the central government, villagers say.
The incidents reported do not seem to support the image Egypt seems to be giving the world that they take last week's terrorist attack seriously and are actively going after the terrorists

Consider:
  • Members of the small village of Tumah, say that the alleged air strikes by Egypt last Wednesday are propaganda--the Islamist militants had already left by the time the armored vehicles and helicopter gunships had arrived.

  • One villager said, "There were 45 armoured personnel carriers and police vehicles, and two helicopters. They fired two rockets but they didn't hit anything."

  • In the village of El-Jura, residents showed the site of a helicopter rocket strike on Wednesday. A villager told AFP that one rocket made a hole in a storehouse and the other landed in the sand. He said, "It was completely random."

  • The close-knit Bedouins insist that there has not been a report of a single tribesman killed in by the Egyptian operation nor of any dead or wounded being brought to the hospital.

  • In Sheikh Zuwayid, one of those arrested was a 72 year old man who was busy feeding his goats when masked Egyptian soldiers stormed the house and took him away in handcuffs, according to his wife. Likewise, a 68 year old man was taken away along with his son while the soldiers ransacked the house.
This raises the question not only of what Egypt actually is doing in the Sinai, but also of when Israel can expect Egypt to remove these troops and armaments out of the area.

There has been a lot of speculation about the terrorist attack, about the goals and who carried it out. What was at first believed to be an embarrassment to Morsi and an opportunity to for the Egyptian military to curtail the power of the Muslim Brotherhood turned out having the exact opposite effect.

Now the question needs to be asked if indeed the terrorist attack is forcing Egypt to take the issue of terrorist bases in the Sinai seriously or whether Egypt is just taking advantage of an opportunity to place its armed forces in the area.

Just when will Egypt pull those forces out of the Sinai?


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