Friday, July 19, 2013

Egypt's unresolved problem in the Sinai

Al Ahram Online:
In the past two weeks, 39 terrorist attacks have occurred in North Sinai. In the resulting clashes between armed groups and security forces, 52 gunmen and civilians and six security personnel have died.  Tensions have also flared at the illegal smuggling tunnels on the border with Gaza, with one Central Security conscript killed by smugglers on Thursday.
Monday witnessed the highest civilian causalities, when a bus transporting workers to the army-operated Al-Arish Cement Company was attacked.  Five were killed – including one child – and 15 were wounded.
Army deplys in North Sinai

... in three recent attacks RPG-7 launchers were used, most likely smuggled from Libya. The G-7 grenade is capable of penetrating armoured vehicles and is generally fired at the doors.
The operations have been largely confined to the 40-kilometre area between Al-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, extending northward toward Rafah along the border with Israel and up to the Karam Abu Salem crossing.

 Ahram Online spoke to several tribal leaders in the Sinai. A number of leaders from Sheikh Zuwaid are reluctant to declare a position on recent developments. Nevertheless, a prominent elder said he was on good terms with jihadist leaders and that prior to 30 June, these groups had refused to take up arms against the army. He added that some jihadist leaders who had previously refrained from entering politics have now begun to issue fatwas, and with that new groups have emerged such as "The Legitimacy Brigades" or "The Legitimacy and Victory Brigade." He added that these groups act independently of the tribes.
At the same time, the tribal source stressed that the situation was worse than that portrayed by the media. People in the Sinai are especially worried about "alien elements" who hail from "jihadist" fighting fronts in North Africa, and the "Asian" Al-Qaeda who continues to enter Sinai despite tightened security.
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