Tuesday, May 21, 2013

To Negotiate or Not to Negotiate , To Attack or Not Attack , The Options currently in #Sinai

We have got a national security crisis in Egypt , the recent kidnapping of the soldiers in Sinai is a huge challenge for the Egyptian state whether for the Presidency “as in Morsi’s administration” or the army or the police.
The presidency and the army are in extreme critical position with not much options. All the options come with the price especially we are speaking about Sinai.
Sinai and its tribes got its own share from neglect and security mistreatment especially in the last ten starting with Taba explosives and what followed it from random arrests by state security. We are not speaking the tamed Nile Valley but a tribal environment with people of high dignity.
After speaking to several people from Sinai in the past two years I can say the locals especially from tribes did not forget what the ministry of interior. “We will not allow the old days of El Adly and Mubarak to return back” this phrase I heard from locals in Sinai too many times including today.
I believe the army and the police understand this very well especially the military intelligence that runs the show in the North and the South. Thousands of men were arrested randomly whenever something happens in Sinai and some of them were badly tortured by security forces. They can’t forget the humiliation they faced.
Another important thing , while talking to people from Sinai over the last two years I found that people there have been warning that Jihadists were roaming around there with the authorities knowledge . Some say that if the ministry of interior and the State want to purge Sinai from all the criminal spots , it will be done in no time.
By the way people of Cairo and Nile Delta will not understand what I am speaking about as they got their own negative perception about the Bedouins.I believe that the people of Upper Egypt will understand what I am speaking about here clearly after all the major clans in Upper Egypt got their own tribal system.
Now for the Egyptian state, there are two options and each with a price.

- Negotiating with the kidnappers fulfilling their demands  :

Negotiating with the kidnappers and even fulfilling their demands will shake the state’s image. It will make the state look weak so that kidnappers are twisting its arm. If the State fulfills the demands and they are simply to release “Sinai’s political detainees” , everyone will kidnap soldiers and officers. In other words it will be  like “the terrorists have won”
The kidnapped soldiers will be released but on the expense of the State’s authority and image.
Despite the Presidency and army denied that there are negotiations with kidnappers , I am sure that there were and there are still talks through some channels. Otherwise how the state knew the demands of the kidnappers including the transfer of prisoners from one prison to another.
In hostage situation there must be negotiations stage because actually this stage gives the authorities an opportunity to collect information and assess the whole situation. In fact I will bet the military intelligence will open a channel because it will help other security forces to locate the kidnappers.
Unfortunately the Egyptian state whether in time of Mubarak or Morsi used to negotiate with kidnappers whether in North or South of Sinai. It was a norm actually in the past years where the tribes , groups and militants kidnap tourists in the south and security forces in the north to get what they want. Most of they want from the Egyptian state is to release their relatives from prison. By the way the military intelligence is responsible for negotiations in these cases.
Here is extreme short list for previous kidnapping cases that ended by negotiations : “Thanks to dear friend Ahmed Ragab”
What we see now is not something new but it is rather a norm , the kidnappers used to get what they wanted after talks with the authorities. This is an important fact we are deliberately forgetting for some unknown reason beyond me.

- Attacking the kidnappers :

The other option in to attack the kidnappers. To launch an operation in Sinai against the unknown kidnappers bearing the heavy price of consequences. Some say that the special forces “777” and “999” are capable the whole issue in few minutes, well I am sure they can considering they are highly trained but historically and internationally such operations included losses in life , the kidnapped lives to be accurate. Already some Skeptic Egyptians fear from the curse of Larnaca airport operation and Malta operation.
These two operations are actually classical example for what I mean about high risk of losses when you use force in liberating hostages.
Even the army is very cautious for real when it comes to this option. It does not want this option actually , not because it is weak on the contrary but because it does not want to get involved in another trap in Sinai. A trap in Sinai starts with fighting unknown Jihadist groups in very difficult areas , if you face enemy like this soon the fighting will spread to include the locals and the tribes. You also got old bad memories when it comes to State Vs. Sinai locals with highly armed society in an area with bad record of wars , I fear we may lose Sinai and the army as well.
I am not in not the conspiracy theories about MB and Hamas are behind because MB is in deep shit but I look from different perspective.
Fighting terrorist groups was and is the mission of the ministry of interior and it has got teams trained for this and yet strangely the army seems to be involved completely in the picture. Unfortunately after the horrifying video released on Sunday most Egyptians support military operation option.
By the way all leaks about the military operation in North we find in the newspapers and news websites are part of a psychological warfare in my view. On one hand  you scare the kidnappers and on the other hand you send a message to the public that your armed forces are there as the strong shield of the state. If there is a true military operation , it will not be announced in this media circus way.
I am not a security expert but I know rescue operations in areas like this should be more secretive , at least to force the kidnappers to transfer the soldiers to some where else and to take their precaution especially that they seem to know where to hide them in Sinai very well.
Personally from all what I see I believe that there are on going talks and at the same time there are military deployments in Sinai serving two proposes : Psychological warfare to pressure on the kidnappers and To purge the Jihadist zones if they can.
Anyhow Today there was a meeting at the Presidential Palace and a group of journalists and TV hosts with President Morsi’s media adviser “Ayman Ali”  and the spokesperson of ministry of interior. During that meeting Ali said the following :
The Presidency did not negotiate and did not assign anyone to negotiate but it does not stop anyone to have talks except for national security reasons. 
Regarding  whether there is negotiation or the military operation , Ali said the following :
There is no negotiation , there is no military operation either because we do not have an enemy army in Sinai. 
I think these statements can be interpreted in different ways.

1 comment:

  1. In other words it will be like “the terrorists have won”

    The terrorists won when Egyptians elected the Muslim Brotherhood and its salafist allies as their new government, and elected the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate to run Egypt. This is what most Egyptians wanted. Two thirds of Egyptian men admit they sexually harass and sexually assault women, too. Egyptians also approve of that, obviously. Egypt is not the place you tell us that it is.

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