The 21st Century Phenomenon


The Egyptian Sinai Peninsula was always hard to control by Egyptian authorities. The population is comprised from local Bedouins , who have a long tradition of resentment toward any authority, especially in the center and Southern Sinai, and Palestinians related to Gaza Strip in North-West Sinai. After the peace treaty with Israel in 1979 Egypt encouraged and supported the emigration of Egyptians to Sinai to run the tourist and oil industries in the Peninsula and to consolidate the Egyptian grip on Sinai. The move only boosted the tension between Egyptians of origin and local inhabitants of Sinai, Bedouins or Palestinians.

Influenced by Jihadi and anti Israeli ideology the Bedou-Palestinian cooperation have carried out a series of terror attacks against tourist resorts in Sinai, generally run by Egyptians, in the years 2004-6 (see -DAHAB BOMBINGS) which led to a brutal crackdown, by the Egyptian police and security, on the local population and created even more resentment and hostility toward the Egyptian regime (see – Al-Jora Clashes).

Following EGYPT’S REVOLUTION in 02/2011, the general chaos and the weakness of Egypt central regime, Sinai become an ungoverned territory, a hotspot for all kinds of lawless groups, smugglers, kidnappers and, obviously, Al Qaeda inspired elements with representatives from all the Arab and Muslim world. At the same time, as the Libyan army crumbled to the LIbyan Civil- War, all the region from the Sub Sahara in Africa to the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean was flooded with all kind of Libyan weapons like anti-aircrafts or anti-tanks missiles, mines, all kinds of rockets, ammunition and light weapons, looted and stolen by local Libyan tribe leaders, corrupt officers and gang members, provided an excellent opportunity for Sinai groups to arm themselves with heavy weapons and make extra money by smuggling even more of heavy and relatively sophisticated weapons to Gaza Strip (see – MEAST NIGHTMARE ).

Nowadays (04/2012) Sinai Peninsula is a real challenge to Egyptian sovereignty, a growing threat to Israel and a safe haven for Al Qaeda inspired elements. Israel did its utmost to contain the threat by intercepting weapon shipments to Gaza and Sinai wherever Israel could outside Egyptian sovereignty without jeopardizing the already fragile peace with Egypt (see – Roumors 12.18.11 ). Indeed, on Sunday 04/21/2012, Israeli naval forces intercepted a Liberian-flagged cargo ship that was headed to Gaza. Naval Commandos boarded the vessel for a “security check,” military sources said (see also the case of FRANCOP)

Egypt, aiming to restore its control and authority over Sinai Peninsula because of its economic value to Egyptian deteriorating Economy and its international obligations to Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, have arrested on 04/13/2012, several Palestinian smugglers from Gaza Strip in El-Arish, who were operating, through an Egyptian middle man, with an ex-Libyan army officer to smuggle even more weapons to Gaza Strip.

Sinai became a junction of regional weapon trafficking , based on Libyan Army stock, a safe haven for jihadists, a key for Egypt-Israel fragile relations and a major obstacle in the recovering of Egypt’s economy. Sinai is an unfortunate outcome of the so called “Arab Spring”. 


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