What Is Missing About Egypt?

The Huffington Post - July 28, 2015

Abdel Monem Said Aly is a Senior Fellow at the Crown Center.

There is no good news about Egypt in the Western media, academic papers and policy briefs. Theorizing about the country is abundant, however. Michael Hanaa of the Century Foundation summarized "Egypt Next Phase" as being "Sustainable Instability." Eric Trager in Foreign Affairs was less merciful; he wrote about "Egypt's Durable Misery." Wander around the Independent or the New York Times, the Guardian or the Washington Post, and you will find an ugly state of affairs in a country that had an autocratic past, a highly repressive present and a failed future -- a horrifying picture of violence, endemic poverty, and intolerant culture is prevailing. Gone are the days of the "Arab Spring" and the "Lotus Revolution"; and the replacement is much less than fortunate.

Somehow Egypt is separated from its environment, with almost no relationship between the Muslim Brothers and different brands of terrorism; between ISIS and Ansar Beit Al Maqdis in Sinai. The entire sad saga of violence and terror in Egypt is merely a byproduct of "root causes" of repression and military rule. Terrorists are not called terrorists but rather they are called "Islamic Militant Insurgency" or "Jihadist Insurgency." The insinuation will go as far as to claim entire episodes of violence as nothing but a reflection of beduins' wrath over a government that has given them nothing but poverty and marginalization.

But neutrality and objectivity of the media and policy experts are not extended to realities like that. The Sinai terrorism is only centered on less than 20 square km in the northeast of the peninsula of 61,000 square km close to Gaza's tunnel-infested borders. In Egypt terrorists failed completely to have a territorial base as they succeeded in doing in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria. In Egypt, fortunately, there is no Ramadi, nor Palmira, which were taken from American trained soldiers and while the fight included an international alliance led by the United States. In fact, while the fight against terrorists in northeastern Sinai was taking place, South and East of Sinai were living in peace with tourist occupancy of 90 percent in Sharm El Shikh as a result of an 7.5 percent increase in tourism in the first half of 2015. Those tourists are served by one third of the Sinai population of 450,000. The other two thirds are dispersed between the north and northwest areas, Middle Sinai and the Suez Canal Zone. Those affected by the fight in Shiekh Zuied and Rafah are no more than 50,000, few of whom were involved in the tunnel smuggling operations and hence cooperating with terrorists. The rest are under the Egyptian forces' protection.... Read the Full Text