July 31, 2019
“Egyptians must take to the streets on Friday to give me the mandate to face violence and terrorism.”
Six years have passed since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who at the time was Defence Minister, demanded popular authorisation to fight violence and terrorism. Terrorism that did not exist until that day.
On July 17 2019, a few days before the sixth anniversary of his speech, masked gunmen in Sinai killed four people, cut off their heads, and although no group has claimed responsibility for the incident, the method of killing suggests it is an extremist group.
Less than a month before, gunmen abducted 12 citizens who were travelling by car on International Road (the main road) in Sinai. On July 21 al-Sisi decided to extend the state of emergency for three months across the country. Emergency law has been imposed since April 2017. The state of emergency was imposed for the first time under al-Sisi’s rule in October 2014 but was limited initially to the province of North Sinai.
After six years of a declared war on terror, the Egyptian regime has not announced its victory over terrorism and the end to the threat in the country. If you compare this to Iraq, for example, this is a long period of time.
In December 2017 then Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the Islamic State, three years after the war on the organisation that controlled one third of Iraq’s territory and oil wells began.
It cannot be said that before al-Sisi’s “authorisation” any armed group controlled land and no group declared separation and the establishment of a new state. But after six years of war twice as long as Iraq the declaration of victory remains absent in Egypt.
It could be said clearly that the Egyptian army is bigger and more organised than the Iraqi army, which suffered a complete collapse with the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.
Nevertheless, the Egyptian army has not yet completed its mission, and it has not declared victory over terrorism, which did not exist before 2013.
Human rights activists say that the Egyptian army’s practices have fuelled the existence of terrorism and increased its presence in many areas of Egypt.
Human rights activists are citing videos showing serious violations carried out by Egyptian army forces in Sinai, including extrajudicial executions and the killing of children.
Observers consider that the delay of declaring victory over terrorism in Egypt is a failure of the policy of repression, the “iron and fire policy,” that the Egyptian regime is carrying out.
Egyptian opponents say the Egyptian regime has fuelled terrorism to justify its presence to the world under the pretext of the war on terror.
Opponents of the Egyptian regime also argue that al-Sisi benefits from the continued declaration of the alleged war on terrorism in maintaining his presence as president of Egypt, suppressing his opponents and accusing them of terrorism.
Opponents stress that most of the issues and accusations of terrorism in Egypt are fabricated. Even in the real cases most of the armed elements have been forced to do so because of the practices of the Egyptian regime. Any democratic system that respects human rights would end terrorism in Egypt.
Anyway, the declaration of victory over terrorism does not seem imminent in Egypt. At least in the next three months the state of emergency will continue and the war against terror will continue to rage.