A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sinai Terror Attack Leads to New Egyptian Crackdown, New Powers for Army

Last weekend's terror attack in Sinai, leaving some 30 Egyptian soldiers dead, is being met by a forceful and in some ways draconian response by the government, limited neither to the perpetrators nor to Sinai. The new measures include  a three-month State of Emergency, expanding the military's powers by declaring state facilities such as power plants, bridges, etc. as military infrastructure, banning Hamas, ending Egypt's mediation efforts with Hamas, closing the Rafah crossing into Gaza and evacuating inhabitants from parts of North Sinai, etc.

The terror threat in Sinai is a real one; radical jihadist groups have been active since the 2011 Revolution. charging "foreign" elements are supporting the Jihadis, and some analysts believe the Sinai Jihadis may now be identifying with ISIS. This theme is also part of the Egyptian media campaign.

Many are wondering, however, if the very real terror threat is being used to justify a tightening of control on domestic dissent.

The newest crackdown, however, comes in a context of major state crackdowns on student protests at universities, which began the new academic year on October 11 and have witnessed demonstrations by student supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted president Muhammad Morsi. These have been widespread and sternly dealt with by police, but today for the first time the Army rather than the police was used, storming the campus of Mansura University in the Delta. And the Prime Minister has announced that "student saboteurs" will be dealt with by Military Courts, not the civilian justice system.

And state propaganda glorifying the military is intensifying.


David Mack said...

Getting harder and harder to justify Egypt's new regime by the importance to U.S. and to our Arab friends of stability in this key strategic partner.

Anonymous said...

A country that claims that it is an honest broker for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians should have little problem or discomfort with a much smaller lie justifying the Generalissimo's regime in Egypt.