A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Government-Bedouin Tensions in Egyptian Sinai

Since last weekend or earlier there have been a number of reports about troubles between Egyptian security forces and bedouin in the Sinai. Now Interior Ministry officials have met with bedouin leaders to defuse the tensions, but it's apparently not enough to satisfy the bedouin, who object to government crackdowns on what the government sees as smuggling and the tribes see as a heavy government hand.

I've held off on discussing this because the government-bedouin clashes occurred at the same time as (and perhaps related to) reports of an attempt to attack a gas pipeline to Israel, or perhaps a pipeline carrying gas to Jordan and Syria. The official version seems to be that someone set fire to vehicles near the pipeline, though other reports suggested it was actually blown up.

Relations with the Sinai bedouin have been rendered even touchier by the heavy Egyptian security effort to prevent terrorist infiltration aimed at attacking Israeli tourists visiting Egypt's "Sinai riviera."

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