Egyptian Chronicles: Couple of words about Sharm El-Sheikh, North Sinai and Terrorism

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Couple of words about Sharm El-Sheikh, North Sinai and Terrorism

There are some misconceptions I began to read online about Sharm El-Sheikh and Sinai especially after the Russian flight crash and the British government’s advice to its citizens and Russian evacuation order and they need to be corrected ASAP.

First of all, till this moment we do not have anything official that confirms the Russian Plane was downed by a bomb and the possibility of the MANPAD is out of question by many experts due to the laws of the physics.

From Sharm El-Sheikh 'Asmaa Wagih/Reuters" 
I am not an expert, but I did some work and studies about terrorist and militant attacks in Sinai peninsula so I assume that I know a thing or two about the situation there.

1- The terrorism-infested zone in Sinai is located in the North, in Al-Arish or to be precise in areas like Rafah and Sheikh Zowaid.

Yes, Islamic State-affiliated Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis “ABM” or as they like to call themselves “Sinai province” did several terrorist attacks outside this zone against mostly the security forces in several areas including Cairo, Mansoura and North Coast. But their main focus is in this area.

According to all experts, evidence and what we have on the ground, ABM’s current zone of operations against security forces as well the security forces aka armed forces operations against ABM is in the North of Sinai.

Recently, there are less attacks against security forces than the past, especially that one of its dangerous masterminds “Hisham Al-Ashamawy” has departed it to return back to Al-Qaeda shifting his fight to the West of the country  as well the military operations against the militant group from time to time.

Yet, I believe the current Egyptian administration’s security and military strategy as well political strategy for North Sinai should be changed immediately to have more progressive and more open policies to include the local people of North Sinai to their side.

I fear that the government is not killing terrorism with that "burn-it-all" policies and mass punishment but rather fueling its future.

People in Rafah already lost a huge source of income with the decision of Egyptian armed forces to destroy the tunnels to Gaza and to turn the area into a buffer zone especially there have not been true development economic projects in North Sinai for nearly 30 years.

The people in North Sinai are actually caught between the mistreatment of security forces and the beheadings of ABM if they dare to help the Armed forces against them.

You cannot beat terrorism without long-term political and economic solutions to the people of North Sinai in a nutshell with my all due respect.

People have been tired of saying this during the time of Mubarak when actually the seeds of ABM were planted and grew or even after Mubarak with three different administrations that care less about Sinai or North Sinai.

2-Sharm El-Sheikh is in South Sinai.
Generally, there is a huge difference between North and South Sinai and it is not about the location or the nature , simply the tribes of South Sinai have got economic interests there with all the tourism out there unlike North Sinai tribes that got nothing. It is like a different reality.

The South Sinai tribes got an interest in protecting tourism and thus ABM or ISIS finds it and will find hard to infiltrate the tribes and stand against them as a society power like in North Sinai.

The economic interests play a crucial part here and the tribes which is the main power if I may in South Sinai won’t let it economic interests to be harmed.

Yes, there is a possibility that Sharm El-Sheikh airport would be infiltrated and a bomb was planted among the luggage of the misfortunate air flight and it will be a huge development if it is true because we are speaking about huge security breach.

But we are not sure yet.

Historically ABM had three operations in South Sinai if I am not mistaken.

The first one was in El-Tor , the capital of South Sinai where the South Sinai security directorate was targeted in October 2013.

The second one was in Taba in February 2014 against a tourist bus coming from Israel.

I will not lie that it did not affect tourism there for awhile but now tourism is fine Taba as if nothing happened foreign tourists come and go , Egyptians come and go complaining only from the harassment of security forces whenever they see a booze bottle with them.
Egyptians currently are mad about hiking in Taba and discovering its canyons and valleys.

There was a third attack in El-Tor city in May 2014 where a suicide bomber blew himself at a security checkpoint. I do not recall any other incident in South Sinai afterwards.

I am not underestimating ABM or any terrorist organization, but Sinai is not under full control of ABM as some widely claimed on the social media.

Yet everything should be put in its context and I repeat that if we want to get rid of ABM for once and for all so everybody will be happy in Egypt, region and the world then we should have a better complete political/economic/social/security inclusive strategy that truly consider locals of North Sinai including the tribes as Egyptian citizens.


  1. Very good research ,although you should pay attention to the grammar

  2. Always excellent and striving for non-biased reporting. You should be a professional ha Zeinobia :)


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