The Danger from Sinai

After yesterday’s events, the million dollar question is of course: what will the Brotherhood do now? A first thing to note in this regard is that it’s not to be hoped that the reactions below are representative of Brotherhood supporters generally.

But most plausibly we should look at the situation in Sinai in particular for a possibly dangerous deterioration in security conditions.

For several months now Sinai has been a hotbed of international Jihadi and particularly anti-Egyptian army activity, concentrated among the region’s Bedouin smugglers. On several occasions such activities consisted in Egyptian soldiers being kidnapped, police posts overrun, and patrols ambushed.

Ironically it was precisely Morsi’s Brotherhood government who, in an attempt to gain international legitimacy, had taken an active stance opposing these Jihadi militants, leaning heavily on its ally Hamas to arrest any militants involved, as well as securing an understanding with Israel under which the Egyptian army could send heavy armaments into the Sinai (which is technically prohibited by the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty).

Now, clearly, all of this may change. Should the Brotherhood indeed wish to punish the Egyptian army for its actions, or generally wish to pursue its political dealings in tandem with forms of militancy, it seems not out of the question that Sinai will be the first place it will look. It seems certain that Sinai’s Jihadi Bedouins would welcome any funding or logistical support from the well-connected Brotherhood, which is still one of the best organized entities in Egypt. In this light, we should look with worry at any escalation in Sinai, where just this evening several attacks against the Egyptian army were reported.

[Note: Several analysts have suggested that one of the major losers in the current conditions is Hamas, being a Brotherhood-associated organisation. But this may understimate  the degree to which Morsi had precisely sacrificied Hamas on the altar of its international support, as evidenced by the pressure Morsi had put on Hamas to quickly accept a cease fire in its 2012 conflict with Israel.  It is not at all inconceivable that Hamas will enjoy the support of a more relaxed Brotherhood, and team up with it to frustrate the Egyptian army, which has long been a staunch Hamas foe].

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