Sinai: Post-coup Egypt's untold story

Since the 3 July military coup which ousted Egypt’s democratically elected leader Mohammed Morsi, there has been a crackdown on his supporters across Egypt, but resistance in Sinai is threatening to turn into a regional civil war.

Sinai: Post-coup Egypt's untold story

World Bulletin / News Desk

Crackdowns against members of the Muslim Brotherhood and their protests have swept across Egypt since Mohammed Morsi, the democratically elected president who was also a member of the group, was dethroned in a military coup on 3 July.

These crackdowns have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people, particularly in Egypt’s main cities Cairo and Alexandria. Unrest has also spread to cities such as Ismailia, Mansoura and Port Said. However, the region of northern Sinai has seen a more organized military crackdown with operations supported by fighter jets, military helicopters and armored vehicles.

The reason for this is the fact that the resistance against the coup has also been more organized and violent in this region, unlike the peaceful protests of Cairo and other cities. As an access point to Gaza via the Rafah crossing, which was opened by Mohammed Morsi only to be closed again after the coup, Sinai is a vital route for smuggling weapons and supplies to Hamas.

It is perhaps for this reason that the resistance taking place in Sinai is not just organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, who only tend to demonstrate their opposition through non-violent means. Rather, other groups, both official and unofficial, who support the cause of the Muslim Brotherhood may also be active in this region, thus explaining why the resistance there has taken a different approach.

Nonetheless, the Egyptian military is continuing to increase its military operations in Sinai under the guise that they are rooting out the Muslim Brotherhood. However, they do not realize that in doing so they may very well be fighting ordinary citizens who are not part of the Brotherhood, but are simply against the military coup. Even those who supported the coup are now complaining that military tactics in the region are not discriminating between fighters and non-combatants.

Indeed, ordinary civilians have been caught in the middle of the battle. Nadine Marroushi, a freelance journalist, managed to sneak into northern Sinai and interview some of its residents. An article written on the slate.com website details some of their experiences.

Judge Abdel Hadi, a resident of Sinai, said “I was one of those that supported June 30,” referring to the anti-government protests that were organized to take place before the coup. “I had thought the army would be more professional in its operation, and target only those attacking it, but it isn’t. This campaign is excessive,” he added. Sheikh Ibrahim al-Menaei, a Bedouin tribe leader whose house was bombed by the army, also said that 52 civilians had been killed since July, including 16 women and children.

There has also been a crackdown on journalists who try to report military operations against civilians. Journalists have been locked up under the charge of ‘reporting false news’. Al-Jazeera journalists are also targeted, as the military and their supporters feel that the channel is biased in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. Two Egyptian journalists were beaten and arrested because the army suspected them of working for Al-Jazeera.

Eye-witnesses told of the army’s targeting of innocent civilians on the road, and their fear of going out of their homes. Cairo based freelance journalist Nadine Marroushi also recorded incidents in which the homes of civilians were intentionally raided and burned down by the army.

One of the first acts of the new military government of Egypt was the closing of the Egypt-Gaza border and the shutting down of tunnels used by smugglers to sneak goods and supplies to and from Gaza. Although this was an act of diplomatic good-will to neighbor Israel, this closure has disadvantaged many Arabs on both sides of the border who relied on the tunnels for their income. This has also caused increasing resentment towards the army in a region that threatens to spiral out of control very quickly.          

Last Mod: 08 Ekim 2013, 15:59
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