Sinai: The economic crisis obscures the news of the war

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Last Monday, the centre of the city of Arish, in the centre of North Sinai governorate, witnessed shootings, as five civilians, including a woman, were injured when security forces attached to a mobile police ambush fired at a car suspected of having armed men inside, which was parked on the main the 23rd of July Street in the city. This was followed by warning fire from stationary ambushes in the area.

Eyewitnesses said that they heard an exchange of gunfire from two different directions in the city centre on the same day, with heavy gunfire from the security posts in the area, amid a state of panic among the people present in the street. Police forces who were present around the pillars withdrew and were stationed inside the security mechanisms. In contrast, the security forces demanded the shop owners close immediately, as police cars came massively to the city centre, closed its entrances and exits, and prevented people from passing for a short period before they withdrew. Traffic returned to normal in the street.

The Ministry of the Interior issued no comment on this attack, which usually gives statements on developments in “security efforts in the various directorates” daily and weekly. The military spokesman didn’t comment on the incident, nor did the governmental and semi-governmental media pay any attention to this type of incident that was of broad interest. Recently, the villages and cities of North Sinai, in which terrorists have been active over the past years, have witnessed a breakthrough at the general level, from reopening schools to ending restrictions on refuelling at gas stations and other measures, without any official clarification of the current situation on the war on terrorism, so what is happening?

Latest official declarations

About a month ago, the Ministry of the Interior issued a statement, which is the latest regarding the security situation in Sinai, revealing details of a video spread on social media, which it said was fabricated. The video shows a terrorist attack on Sinai University, showing gunfire and a response by the security forces. The Ministry of the Interior said that it was an acting scene made by a citizen to make profits. However, the statement did not mention that an attack occurred on the 19th of November in the area of the university in the city of Qantara, east of Ismailia Governorate. This happened twice, resulting in the injury of a student and damage to the facade of the student’s residential building. The front face of the university building was damaged during clashes between army units and the terrorists.

This attack ended with the murder of an army officer with the rank of major and the murder of a conscript. At the end of the clashes, warplanes intervened to destroy the terrorists. This was the closest area to the Suez Canal that the terrorists had reached, with a significant security deterioration in the far west of Sinai. The murder of the officer was mentioned in several sites close to the government. At the same time, there was no mention or details about the attack or the conscript’s murder, and the military spokesman also ignored the incident.

A source from the Sinai Tribal Union, volunteering in the war with the army against terrorism, said that the clashes between the tribal union and the takfiri elements were repeated a few days before after they spotted the infiltration of shooters into the industrial zone. In the same month, specifically on the 6th of November, an explosive device exploded in the village of Jalbana, North Sinai Governorate, which caused the death of a lieutenant colonel in the army, in addition to 3 of the civilian volunteer members of the Sinai Tribal Union, while combing the village of mines and explosive devices, which is also the incident that has been ignored by the security services, the military spokesperson, and the official and semi-official media.

The last statement in this regard published by the military spokesman, who is currently only interested in publishing obituaries for the deceased senior officers, was on the 7th of May when a major attack took place in the Aram 2 ambush area, which led to the killing of 17 members of the armed forces. The military spokesman wrote in his statement that the attack took place in the east of the canal before he changed the location of the attack to its west. Then later, after a few months, it was deleted from the official page of the military spokesperson, and the news also disappeared from government-affiliated and closed to its websites.

Why news about war are missing?

In addition to the great importance of calm in the area of the canal at the media level, in conjunction with the preparation for the launch of a special fund in the Suez Canal, the military spokesman published a video report two days ago of what he described as “manifestations of life in North Sinai”, it is possible to link the absence of official interest, with two overlapping events.

The first relates to the crushing economic crisis that Egypt has been living through for months. The government, which has adopted arguments, the first is the war on terrorism, and the other is raising the morale of the people through “economic achievements”, found that the economic achievements are no longer sufficient. This pushed the government to stop the negative news machine and to talk about the crises the citizens were experiencing, focusing on finding arguments and justifications for the economic crisis. The government is trying to find solutions to the political crisis the country is experiencing between the government and the opponents closest to it, on the one hand for the sake of political stability required by foreign creditors, in addition to the government’s desire to “join hands” to solve the crisis it has reached.

The security services usually used accusations of terrorism, or in other words, “belonging to a terrorist group,” as a justification for suppressing government opponents and imprisoning them for years. This was enough to silence every dissenting voice, and with security completely controlling the public sphere and ending any voice opposing the government, this term is no longer of great importance to be used except in political emergencies or in security statements that usually talk about “trending” events on the internet. Thus the northeastern threat is now not used.