President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi’s Impact on Egypt – Sherifa Zuhur

21 Oct


I was asked to communicate President al-Sisi’s impact on Egypt by a journalist, who said he intended to put my responses into an article for the Wall Street Journal (9/8/16).  As far as I know, it wasn’t printed, but there were a few other similar pieces which came out at that time which were highly critical, if not condemnations of Egypt.  I assumed that my responses did not please the editors, but I thought they might interest you!

– President Sisi’s most important and potentially lasting effects on Egypt are:


  1. Imbuing in Egyptians the sense that their President (and therefore their other officials and institutions) must be accountable to them; justify policies and meet their needs. The President began a series of public addresses which were essentially follow-ups/report cards on specific issues. This was despite the fact that he cannot (and one would not expect him to be able to) summarize all of the forward and retrograde currents; and the fact that in certain instances those dealing with fraud were then prosecuted by the state.


  1. As Defense Minister and then President, he moved – at the public’s and the military leadership’s behest — against the oldest, strongest Islamist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood and its political party, Freedom and Justice. Here, Egypt’s path diverged from other nations impacted by the Arab Spring. It would be grandstanding to say that Egypt has by these means chosen a secular state, because its legal system is only semi-secular and one must acknowledge the support of certain salafi groups for the current government. This meant there is a check to the Muslim Brotherhood/Freedom & Justice Party’s longstanding animosity to Egypt’s Copts, and ambiguous attitude toward’s women’s rights and other human and intellectual rights. It meant that President Morsi’s language which indicated that his tribe or ‘people’ were Islamists and Brethren and not all Egyptians was unsuccessful. This course of action meant his presiding over a purge which impacted liberals and youth as well as Islamists, and however popular with an internal majority, has been sharply criticized outside of the country.


  1. Sisi has presided over the most active counterterrorism campaign(s) in the country’s history for some decades, and the main impetus of that campaign — in the northern Sinai — has been fiercely fought. By and large, the situation in the rest of Egypt has been stabilized.

As a response to this problem and the resistance funded or supported by the Islamists discussed in (b), he has unfortunately curtailed Egyptians political rights by not altering the so-called protest law (107 of ’13 approved under acting Pres. Mansour). Parliament’s upholding of this law, and approval of many laws and edicts introduced in the absence of a legislature is one of the obstacles impeding better relations between Egypt’s highly divided liberals and government supporters. In the long term, a movement towards expressions of political freedom (which do not endanger others or destroy property and cause havoc as was seen on campuses and in the streets) and away from the use of military courts would be highly desirable. It seems that Egypt was unable to establish a direction for its policies free of these political limits despite the revolution, and admission that Egyptian political rights prior to it were insufficient.


  1. President Sisi faced a huge challenge in stabilizing and selecting projects and policies to move the country forward economically. His oversight of several grand projects – the ‘second’ or additional Suez Canal, the new administrative capitol city, and the medical city, among them — will at least temporarily employ many Egyptians in their construction. These should help improve Suez trade and decentralization in the future; the more immediate economic stabilizer is the $12 billion IMF loan. Other imperatives to ameliorate the rising cost of living, un- and under- employment and failing public utilities and service have presented challenges. Foreign direct investment may rise, but it is still a difficult road for investors, and President Sisi’s government has reviewed the exchange rate policy and adjusted currency rates (another adjustment may be required); and tried, but not yet addressed ambiguous tax policies. Foreign direct investment still presents many obstacles and restrictions to would-be investors.


Leveling austerity measures on Egypt’s large poor and almost-poor population is very unpopular. Such measures were unpopular in the UK, but the public’s safety net is stronger. Outbursts on social media show the strength of popular resentment that the current government has neither brought “bread” – nor dignity, freedom and an end to corruption (the ideals of the January 25th, 2011 revolution).


  1. Pres. Sisi impressed me and others as knowing and understanding how far Egypt had to travel to democracy and wrote, as you know in his SRP in 2006, some observations about the potential to and obstacles in the way of democracy in the Arab Islamic world. To this end, I personally was hoping he would make good his promises to improve Egypt’s educational system, which is in very dire straits, and to address the hype and problems with academic and intellectual freedom in Egypt.   The latter is not helped by the conspiratorial tone of the media seeing “foreign hands” here, there and everywhere. But the media reflects a lack of critical thought, which in turn, can only be addressed with standards of tolerance, which must be introduced in and throughout the educational system.


If he does so, I hope that new policies will not direct thousands of low-income students to vocational schools as seems to have developed out of the not-fully-realized state socialist policies of the past. I believe Pres. Sisi himself is an egalitarian, but much depends on who may advise and craft reform of that nature.


  1. President Sisi has upheld the framework of the Camp David Accords. A further large-scale war would be disastrous for Egypt, but on the other hand it remains to be seen if he can move forward peace between the Palestinians and Israel. He had encouraged meetings between Israel and the Palestinians to be hosted by Russia, and presented a plan to President Abbas recently which offers land in the Sinai to add to the PA territory in Gaza. Abbas has rejected this plan outright, and Sisi has run the risk of being accused of giving away Egyptian land (as in the Tiran/Sanafir islands uproar).   But the offer indicates a proactive dimension to President Sisi’s leadership which might bear more fruit on this issue in the future.


On other regional matters, Egypt’s government has engaged with Ethiopia since the building of the Renaissance Dam – which could threaten the Nile’s water supply which is crucial to Egypt and the Sudan– began. It has rather inexplicably and irrationally backed Assad’s government in Syria, but stated that its support is for fighting terrorism. However, since the huge numbers of Syrian casualties and displacement indicate that the rebellion is not, in fact a matter of terrorism, but a strongly supported aim at regime change — one must be aware of Egypt’s fear that a post-Assad government would bring to power Islamists unfriendly to it, or more specifically, the Muslim Brotherhood. President Sisi’s generally good relations with Saudi Arabia have been ruffled by their differences on Syria, and current economic problems in the Kingdom, but Saudi-Egyptian ties are likely to remain close.

Palestinians Rebut Blumenthal & Other Critics of Syria’s Revolution

12 Oct
On The Allies We’re Not Proud Of: A Palestinian Response to Troubling Discourse on Syria
We, the undersigned Palestinians, write to affirm our commitment to the amplification of Syrian voices as they endure slaughter and displacement at the hands of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. We are motivated by our deep belief that oppression, in all of its manifestations, should be the primary concern of anyone committed to our collective liberation. Our vision of liberation includes the emancipation of all oppressed peoples, regardless of whether or not their struggles fit neatly into outdated geopolitical frameworks.We are concerned by some of the discourse that has emerged from progressive circles with regards to the ongoing crisis in Syria. In particular, we are embarrassed by the ways in which some individuals known for their work on Palestine have failed to account for some crucial context in their analysis of Syria.

The Syrian revolution was in fact a natural response to 40 years of authoritarian rule. The Assad regime, with the support of its foreign financial and military backers, is attempting to preserve its power at the expense of the millions of Syrians whom the regime has exiled, imprisoned, and massacred. We believe that minimizing this context in any discussion of Syria dismisses the value of Syrian self-determination and undermines the legitimacy of their uprising.

We also believe that an important consequence of all foreign interventions, including those purportedly done on behalf of the uprising, has been the setback of the original demands of revolution. The revolution is a victim, not a product, of these interventions. It is imperative for any analysis of Syria to recognize this fundamental premise. We cannot erase the agency of Syrians struggling for liberation, no matter how many players are actively working against them.

Though we maintain that the phenomenon of foreign aid demands thorough critique, we are concerned by the ways in which foreign aid has been weaponized to cast suspicion on Syrian humanitarian efforts. Foreign aid is not unique to Syria; it is prevalent in Palestine as well. We reject the notion that just because an organization is receiving foreign aid, it must follow then that that organization is partaking in some shadowy Western-backed conspiracy. Such nonsense has the effect of both undermining humanitarian efforts while simultaneously whitewashing the very crimes against humanity that necessitated the aid in the first place.

Furthermore, we object to the casual adoption of “war on terror” language. Enemies of liberation have historically used this rhetoric to target humanitarians, organizers, and community members. From Muhammad Salah to the Midwest 23 to the Holy Land Five, our community is all too familiar with the very real consequence of employing a “war on terror” framework. Therefore, we reject a discourse that perpetuates these old tactics and peddles harmful and unwarranted suspicion against Syrians.

Along these lines, it is our position that any discussion of Syria that neglects the central role of Bashar Al-Assad and his regime in the destruction of Syria directly contradicts the principles of solidarity by which we abide. We have reflected on our own tendency to heroize those who advocate on behalf of the Palestinian struggle, and we fear that some members of our community may have prioritized the celebrity status of these individuals over the respect and support we owe to those Syrians affected most directly by the war, as well as those living in the diaspora whose voices have been dismissed as they have watched their homeland be destroyed.

We will no longer entertain individuals who fail to acknowledge the immediate concerns of besieged Syrians in their analysis. Despite reaching out to some of these individuals, they have shown an unwillingness to reflect on the impact of their analysis. We regret that we have no choice left but to cease working with these activists whom we once respected.

We would like to encourage others who are guided by similar principles to do the same.

Abdulla AlShamataan
Abdullah M
Adam Akkad
Adnan Abd Alrahman
Ahmad Al-Sholi
Ahmad Kaki
Ahmad N
Ahmed A
Ala K
Ala’a Salem
Alex T
Ali A. Omar
Amal Ayesh
Amanda Michelle
Amani Alkowni
Ameen Q.
Amena Elmashni
Amira S
Andrew Kadi
Bashar Subeh
Bayan Abusneineh
Budour Hassan
Butheina Hamdah
Dana Itayem
Dana M
Dania Mukahhal
Dania Mukahhal
Diana J.A.
Dareen Mohamad
Dena E.
Diana Naoum
Dina A.
Dina Moumin
Dorgham Abusalim
Dr. Isam Abu Qasmieh
Eman Abdelhadi
Eyad Mohamed Alkurabi
Eyad Hamid
Farah Saeed
Faran Kharal
Faten Awwad
Fatima El-ghazali
Fouad Halbouni
Hadeel Hejja
Haitham Omar
Haleemah A
Hana Khalil
Hanin Shakrah
Hanna Alshaikh
Hani Barghouthi
Haneen Amra
Hareth Yousef
Hazem Jamjoum
Heba Nimr
Helal Jwayyed
Husam El-Qoulaq
Ibraheem Sumaira
Imran Salha
Jackie Husary
Jannine M
Jehad Abusalim
Jihad Ashkar
Jennifer Mogannam
Joey Husseini Ayoub
Jumana Al-Qawasmi
Karmel Sabri
Kefah Elabed
Khaled B
Laith H
Lama Abu Odeh
Lama Abu Odeh
Lana Barkawi
Lara Abu Ghannam
Leila Abdelrazaq
Lila Suboh
Linah Alsaafin
Lojayn Ottman
Lubna H
Lubna Morrar
Loubna Qutami
Magda Magdy
Mai Nasrallah
Mahmoud Khalil
Maisa Morrar
Majed A
Majed Abuzahriyeh
Manal Abokwidir
Manal El Haj
Maram Kamal
Mariam Saleh
Mariam Barghouti
Mekarem E.
Mariam Abu Samra
Mira Shihadeh
Mohamad Sabbah
Mohammad Al-Ashqar
Mohamed Hassan
Mohammad Abou-Ghazala
Mona N
Msallam Mohammed AbuKhalil
Nadia Ziadat
Nadine H
Nayef Al Smadi
Nidal Bitari
Nour Azzouz
Nour Salman
Nusayba Hammad
Omar Coolaq
Omar Jamal
Osama Mor
Omar Zahzah
Osama Khawaja
Rami Okasha
Rana Asad
Randa MKW
Rani Allan
Rania Salem
Ramzi Issa
Rasha A.
Rawan A.
Rawya Makboul
Reem J
Reem S
Reema A
Riad AlArian
Riya Al-Sanah
Ryah A
Sabreen Ettaher
Salim Salamah
Samar Batrawi
Samar Azzaidani
Sameeha Elwan
Samia S.
Sami J
Sami Shahin
Samya Abu-Orf
Sarah Ghouleh
Sara Zubi
Sarah Abu.
Sarah Ali
Sarah Shahin
Shady Zarka
Seham A
Shifa Alkhatib
Shahrazad Odeh
Shirien D
Sima Dajani
Sonia Farsakh
Susan Al-Suqi
Tahani H.
Taher Herzallah
Talal Alyan
Tamar Ghabin
Tarek Abou-Ghazala
Tareq R
Tasneem Abu-Hejleh
Tawfieq Mousa
Yahiya Saad
Yamila shannan
Yasmeen sh
Yasser Quzz
Yazan Amro
Zaid Muhammad
Zachariah Barghouti
Zeina Labadi

SOAS Palestine Society

 Doc is available here:

Return to Blogging & from the archives; Gaza and the Mawasi

20 Apr

Have decided to return to blogging/informing despite the extremely disturbing efforts to control information whether about Egypt, Syria, Palestine, the arts.

As Bassem Youssef, heart-surgeon turned comedian said recently:  “You can’t shut people up.”

So why did I fall silent?  Actually I have been active on other forms of social media and got re-involved in music after a hiatus.

I was searching through my files and found this written for the Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict on an area of Gaza where people were trapped for years due to Israel’s administrative rules.  I wrote it after traveling to Gaza to observe Israel’s withdrawal, when settlers resisted.  I was with a news crew which filmed settlers attacking a Palestinian home from their roof; the crew and lead (from the Times) said they knew their editor wouldn’t accept the other part of the story … we went into Gaza to talk to various people about their expectations for the future.  Mind you, this predated Hamas’ victory in the elections in ’06.   Recently, I met a man in Arkansas who is from this part of Gaza and he mentioned working in the flower gardens – I had no opportunity to say I had visited.  On several other trips to Gaza, I paused to marvel at the beached boats, unable to fish, although Gaza should rightfully develop a seaport and touristic beach.  As part of the encyclopedia project one struggle was to insert more information on Palestinian geography, history, personalities and perspectives; every brief article counted.  And finally, the point – could Israel’s settlers be forced to withdraw from areas they occupy?  (Yes, almost 4,000 settlers left Gaza, not at all willingly, but they did).     

Al-Muwasi` (meaning gardens) know as Mawasi, is a strip of coastal land on the Gaza Strip, one by fourteen kilometers, divided administratively into the Khan Yunis and Rafah Mawasi. Classified under the Oslo Agreement I of 1994 as a “yellow” area, Israel controlled security, and Palestinians held civil jurisdiction. 760 families (5300 people) inhabit the Khan Yunis Mawasi. 220 families are Palestinian refugees who fled here in 1948. The residents of Malhala are Bedouin refugees, primarily from the Beersheva (Bir Saba`) area.   430 families (3000 persons) live in the Rafah Mawasi including refugees from the Ashdod area who live in the “Swedish village,” part of the Rafah refugee camp.   [Note these figures were current at that time )

At least 15 Israeli settlements were established on Mawasi including Katif, Ganei Tal, Kfar Yam, Neve Dekalim, Gan Or, Bedolah, Rafih Yam and Morag.   In 2005, Mawasi was the site of Israeli demonstrations against withdrawal from Gaza. Demonstrators seized empty buildings and threw stones at Palestinian homes.

The Mawasi Palestinians were not allowed after 1967 to travel to Khan Yunis or Rafah where some have families and property.   Later, they were increasingly restricted due to their proximity to the Israeli Gush Katif settlement to their east. The Gush Katif central administration was based at Neve Dekalim and the area was subjected to special security arrangements.   The Palestinians used to fish, but were forbidden to do so; instead they relied on agriculture. However, since 2000 this output suffered from land-razing and Israeli-imposed transport restrictions. Electricity was available only at night for 5 to 6 hours through a temporary generator. The school lacks electricity, water and sufficient teachers, and its clinic has electricity only 2 hours a day. The Khan Yunis Mawasi has only one private well and no sewage system. The Israeli settlers’ standard of living was considerably higher than the Palestinians as they enjoyed state subsidies and adequate services, well-maintained roads, better residences, and easier access to schools, clinics and supermarkets. Until 2005, there were approximately 3900 Israeli settlers in the area.

Palestinian truck-drivers used to wait for hours to drive through checkpoints.   Only men are allowed to walk through checkpoints on foot and restrictions on gas for cooking and heating were imposed there. Carrying metal through was not allowed, including coins. Of additional concern to Palestinians were incidents of Israeli dumping of toxic waste in the area and the presence of 4 sewage treatment plants serving Israeli settlements, but which pollute Palestinian areas.

Since 2005, a Red Cross project has restored some of the Shanshola boats used to fish sardines.



B’tselem. Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

“Al-Mawasi, Gaza Strip: Impossible Life in an Isolated Enclave.” March 2003, pp. 1-21.


Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Suffering in Isolation: A Report on Life Under Occupation in the Mawasi Areas in the Gaza Strip, August 2003. pp. 1-125.


Personal interviews with al-Muwasi’ residents, July 2005.


Sherifa Zuhur, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College


Security, Sinai, Terrorism #Egypt Aug. 18 – Oct. 2, 2015 Sherifa Zuhur

3 Oct

Oct. 2 New message by #WilayatSinai:  “From #Sinai to #Somalia – #ISIS #Egypt


Oct. 2  #IS#Sinai claims it killed an #Egypt-ian “army spy” a member of the Sawarka tribe in Cairo. This is first Sinai-based claim on Cairo attack in 2015.


Oct. 2 A ban on niqab worn by instructors and professors at Cairo University is upheld by Egypt’s Mufti. (Ban on students wearing niqab was overturned some years ago) #Egypt

Sept. 30 4 terrorists killed in Alexandria – same incident as below but this report notes they were in attacks in Beheira.

Sept. 29 4 #MuslimBrotherhood killed in exchange of gunfire in #Agamy #Alexandria #Egypt Wed.

Sept. 27 Egyptian army foiled attempt by 7 militants from Gaza crossing via sea into Egypt’s Rafah city.

Sept. 27 Schools in #Rafah and #ShaykhZuwayd#Sinai postponed to 10th of October #Egypt

Sept. 27 Five #Copts injured in attacks in #Samalout and #Minya  over church construction

Sept. 26 Attack on Saturday, in Arish killed 2 of #Egypt‘s soldiers and injured 16 – roadside bomb #Sinai

Sept. 25 Nine militants killed in Zaidiya in exchange of fire with security.

They were thought to be Muslim Brotherhood members The NYT article sayd killed for connection to the attack on the Italian consulate & seems to imply they weren’t.

Sept. 23 Sinai’s Bedouin Jerken Band plays jerry cans left in the desert

Sept. 23 #Egypt‘s army seized weapons & explosives in #Giza & #Arish #counterterrorism

Sept. 23 Clashes between Egypt’s security forces and Islamist supporters in Alexandria following Eid prayers

Sept. 23 Prosecutors investigated those who were plotting to smuggle Pres. Morsi from Bourj al-Arab prison.

Sept. 23 Al Jazeera journalists were among 100 other prisoners released or released and pardoned for the Eid al-Adha

Sept. 22 Five tons of marijuana seized at Hurghada


Sept. 22 Egypt detains Khaled al-Beltagy, age 16, son of imprisoned leader Muhammad al-Beltagy

Sept. 22 Egypt has demolished 3,255 homes in the Sinai for the buffer zone according to Human Rights Watch and not given notice or reparations.

Sept 21 46 alleged Muslim Brotherhood members arrested in Egypt

Sept. 21 Egypt’s Cabinet of Ministers issued a comprehensive statement on the plan to battle terrorism in the Sinai:

Sept. 20 A bomb explodes outside the Foreign Ministry Office in Mohandesin.

Sept. 20 Pro-Muslim Brotherood figure Sharaby, (hosted by State Dept. in January and who spoke at UC Berkeley) calls on NY followers to “siege” Sisi’s hotel during UNGA visit

Sept. 20 Bio of Egypt’s new prosecutor-general Nabil Sadek

Sept. 19 #Egypt Brigadier General killed overnight in North #Sinai city of al-Arish; two others killed in IED explosion via @AssetSource

Sept. 19 IS in Sinai released a statement urging tribes to fight the army. Via Ashw_s6 – account suspended.  The statement “To the Defiant Tribes of the Sinai” is available here:

Sept. 18 A number of top al-Qaeda figures were released as part of a prisoner exchange with Iran. An Iranian kidnapped in Yemen was released for these figures which include Egyptians, Seif al-Adel, Abu Kair al-Masri and Abdullah Ahmad Abdullah and several Jordanians.

Sept. 18 #IS#Sinai published wrap of attacks in #Egypt during previoua Islamic month. Still no mention of Sep 3 IED incidents with #MFO.

Source @ZLGold.

Sept. 18 Mexico demands compensation for the Mexican tourists killed in an Egyptian military strike in the desert.

Sept. 16 145 prison inmates to be released in #Egypt for the #EidAlAdha

Sept. 16 55 militants and 2 soliders killed in ongoing Operation Martyrs’ Right in #Sinai accrdg to authorities #Egypt

Sept. 11 – unverified claims by ISIS that it targeted vehicle using advanced missiles (but others say car bomb/IED)

Sept. 11 – Militants in northern Sinai attacked civilians killing a woman & child   however same incident is reported as shelling of house kills a woman and “probably by Army” via @BigPharoah

Sept. 10 Local leader of Brotherhood’s FJP Youth Wing for Beni Suef shot dead by Egyptian police during arrest raid. Via @AssetSourceApp

Sept 10 Anti-tank & helicopter weapons acquired by #WilayatSinai – photos #Egypt #Sinai

Sept. 10 US to send an additional 75 troops to increase protection of MFO in #Sinai

Sept. 9 30 ABM militants killed, 41 captured, 3 Explosives warehouses destroyed in #Egypt army’s “Martyr Right” mil. Op in Shk Zwayed, Arish&Rafah source Hassan Sari

Sept. 9 #ISIS Terror Group Release Photos Claims Anti-Tank & Anti-Aircraft Training Courses In #Sinai (see TL)

Sept 9 More photos from Wilayat Sinai posted as Daily Life of the Mujahid

Sept 8 Egypt’s spokesman told Reuters that Egyptian troops would arrive in Yemen today.

Sept. 8 The Egyptian army announced that it had begun a major anti-militant operation “Martyrs’  “ in the north Sinai on Monday and killed 29 militants. 2 soldiers were killed.

Sept. 7 57 additional NGOs have been closed for ties with the Muslim Brotherhood

Sept. 6 The 3rd field Army Commander meets with elders of the tribes in South #Sinai.

Sept 5 Egyptian military said it had prevented the illegal immigration of 228 people – refugees

Sept. 4 On the 6 peacekeepers injured –

Sept. 4 Egypt gas pipeline bombed again last night in the northern Sinai.

Sept. 3 Six peacekeepers injured in 2 IED explosions #Sinai – 4 are Americans.  #Egypt

Sept 3 #3 terrorists killed in Sheikh Zwayed: Spokesman

Sept. 3 Article claims terrorism is spreading across Egypt https//

Sept. 2   Two IEDs exploded inside a shop reportedly belonging to a Coptic Christian in Qena, southern #Egypt

Sept. 1 Suicide bombing in al-Arish city was thwarted and the militant was killed.

Sept. 1 Video released from Wilayat Sinai (in my twitter feed)

Aug 31 #Breaking Egypt foils car bomb attack likely targeting police station in al-Arish, Sinai (via @AssetSourceApp

Aug 31 An Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis member, Ahmad Abdul Hakim of Zawya al-Hamra was killed in Cairo

Aug 31 Egypt begins building fish farms on the Gaza border – further discouraging the building of smuggling tunnels

Aug 29 How Wilayat Sinai operates via other groups within mainland Egypt

Aug. 28 Two killed in clashes with security forces in Fayoum

Aug. 28 A policeman returning from work shot and killed in Sohag

Aug 28   12 defendents given preliminary death sentences for crimes (also recruitment) for Wilayat Sinai by an Egyptian court. Six are being tried in abstentia.

Aug 27 Those involved in attack on tourist bus near #Karnak #Luxor site referred to military court #Egypt

Aug 26 Another prisoner dies in #Fayoum police station – 2nd in 3 days.  #Egypt

Aug 26 Twoolicemen who were guarding a post office in al-Arish were killed by unknown gunmen

Also see

Aug 25 Police intercept network that makes bombs and rockets

Aug 24 The number of casualties in the bombing of a police bus rose to 3 (and 27 wounded) on the Rashid-Damanour road in Behaira rose to 3

Aug 23 Abu Al-Qasim, alleged military head of Wilayat #Sinai, killed in airstrike–per anon sources in sympathetic media (?) via Zack Gold

Aug 23 A lawsuit demanding that Human Rights Watch leave Egypt was filed and accepted. Filed by a rights organization and it claims that HRW has held meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood in Qatar and in the “US Congress”

Aug 23 Egyptian security forces use teargas on striking lower-ranking police in Sharqiyya

Aug 23 Ministry of Endowments #Egypt bans any promotion of political candidates in the mosques

Aug 22 Life terms for Egypt‘s Badie and 18 Brotherhood members

Aug 22 Three Facebook users were arrested in Sohag for their support of Wilayat Sinai

Aug 22 5 terrorist killed, 18 others injured in Rafah

Aug 21 10 terrorists killed and 11 captured by Egyptian army forces in North Sinai

New round of intense Egyptian airstrikes just now, south of Rafa

Aug 21 Egypt’s Army Chief of Staff met the UK national security advisor

Aug 20 Daesh-affiliate ABM claims responsibility over Cairo blast: “in retaliation to “martyred brothers” of Arab Sharkas”

Aug 20 Wilayat Sinai claimed the bombing at the courthouse

Aug 19 4 #Palestinians kidnapped by gunmen after leaving #Rafah #Sinai #Egypt

Aug 19 Loud explosion in #Cairo was a car bomb in front of a security building and near a courthouse in Shubra al-Kheima The explosion caused 20 cars to smash and wounded 29 (most not seriously) #Egypt

Aug 19 Pres. Sisi calls for preemptive measures to discourage terrorism as 50 clerics met in a conference to discuss extremist fatwas

Aug 18 #ISIS-affiliated Wilayat Sinai claimed responsibility for an IED attack against a troop carrier that injured two near Sheikh Zuweid #Egypt

Aug 18 Egypt’s forces on high alert at Libyan border after Libyan border guards disappear

Egypt: Security, Terrorism, Sinai Update for Aug. 1 – 17, 2015

17 Aug

Aug. 17 Wilayet Sinai, claim to have targeted an army APC near a ‘gas station’ south of Sheikh Zuweid (Joe Gulhane, no source given to me – if provided will list)

Aug 17 Police officer dies from injuries in last Monday’s bombing #Egypt and #AjnadMisr
claims responsibility

Aug 17 New anti-terrorism laws in #Egypt:

Aug 17 Omar Ashour criticizes the Egyptian governments campaign in the Sinai and repression.

Aug 16 A draft law to end penalties on journalists has been revealed. How this elides with the new penalties on contradicting government sources in the antiterrorism laws is unclear.
Aug. 16 #Egypt’s Min. of Interior says it has broken up 3 #MuslimBrotherhood cells.

Aug. 16 The Egyptian military is continuing its operations near the Libyan border.

Aug 16 Online statement attributed to a group calling itself Tahrir Brigades, claims to be defected officers, claimed Barakat assassination

Aug. 16 North #Sinai court returns to #Sinai fllwing 3 mo. relocation due to terrorist
attacks. #Egypt

Aug 16 Body of Palestinian man from Rafah found near the border this morning.

Aug 15 #Rabaa protests had low turnout – some arrests; in contrast to online activism #Egypt

Aug. 15 #Russia gives #Egypt a Molniya missile corvette

Aug. 13 Egypt confiscates assets of the chairman of Juhayna for ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Aug. 13/Aug 12 ISIS in Egypt (Wilayat Sinai) beheaded a Croatian captive , Tomislav Salopek

Aug 12 A policeman was killed today in #Fayoum, south of Cairo, in #Egypt

Aug 11 253 sentenced in abstentia to life in prison for committing violence in Beheira

Aug 11 Badie referred to court in a new trial

Aug. 12 #Egypt Apache war helicopter strikes vehicle in Al-Kharroubah village, S. Sheikh Zwayyed, N.Sinai killing 3 Daesh-affiliate members aboard

Aug 12 Curfew hours reduced in al-#Arish #Sinai #Egypt

Aug 12 Alaa Selim (photojournalist) found dead in Abu Taweela village near Shaykh Zuwayd, circumstances unclear

Aug 11 New York Times Editorial (which has published numerous scathing critiques of Egypt’s government) wants the #MFO out of the #Sinai.

Aug 10 Ten persons were recommended to receive death sentences, so their cases go to the Grand Mufti for his opinion

Aug 10 IED blast injures 3 persons outside a court in Heliopolis

Aug 9 2 killed in clashes between security forces and group of armed men in #Suez #Egypt

Aug 9 Revolutionary Punishment group claims attack in El-Sinnuris near ‪#Fayoum‬‬ earlier today. ‪#‎Egypt‬‬

Aug 9 World’s largest container ship, the Marstel Maersk crosses the new Suez Canal

Aug 9 Policeman killed in al-Arish after a different officer in the same position was killed.

Aug 9 A bomb targeted an armored vehicle in northern Sinai killing 2 security personnel, injuring 3

Aug 8 18 militants were killed over the last 2 days’ shelling of Shaykh Zuweid and Rafah – reportedly by Apaches

Aug 7 Fears mount for the fate of the Croation hostage seized in 22 of July – interesting detail, his driver was released.

Aug 6 Raid on a farm in Sanoris in Fayoum – five are killed. A report from Aug 9 including some controversial details

Aug 6
#Egypt N.#Sinai / Army Helicopter targets 35 #Hamas terrorists in a smuggling tunnel with #Gaza

Aug 6 The new Suez Canal (which took only one year instead of five to complete) was celebrated with an inaugural ceremony.

Aug 5 ISIS affiliate (Wilayat Sinai) has threatened to kill a Croatian hostage in 48 hours.

Aug 4 Five civilians killed when their house was shelled during clashes in northern Sinai

Aug 4 Unidentified gunmen killed a policeman standing guard outside a police station in Sharqiyya

Aug. 2 Army says it has killed 88 suspected militants in the Sinai between July 20 and July 31

Aug 2 Car owned by Judge Moh. Abdullah Abbas (al-Khanka court) explodes from bomb. No injuries #Egypt

Aug 1. Egypt’s army says it has killed a leading figure in Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis

Interview with Sherifa Zuhur on Counterterrorism/COIN in Egypt and Beyond

5 Aug

I just was interviewed by journalist Yasser Khalil.  The interview will likely be available in Arabic and offered at Sahafy Online (  for outlets interested in publishing it.   A little bit of this discussion is based on my current book draft on Egypt (there is a chapter on the Sinai campaign) .

Sherifa azZuhur Arabi

Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley

August 5, 2015

– What do you think about the Egypt’s strategy in fighting terrorism? Is it sufficient enough to end up the terrorism in the country?


Egypt is using a combination of counterterrorism (CT) and counterinsurgency (COIN) approaches.  It faces terrorism in the northern Sinai peninsula, but also in/near Suez and on Egypt’s mainland as well as acts of sabotage on electricity towers and assassinations of public figures such as the Chief Prosecutor, the late Hisham Barakat.    In the Sinai, Egypt’s military had to cease cooperating with the limitations prevailing under the Camp David Accords by which only civil police are to operate in zone C.  While these restrictions are lifted now, that insurgency has longstanding roots going back to 2003-2004.


Elsewhere the criminalization of terrorist groups and those engaging or calling for violence is an important aspect of the campaign.  So too, are efforts at antiterrorism (terrorism prevention) in which the roots of extremism are to be attacked by al-Azhar, and mainstream Muslim institutions, although there isn’t much agreement about the shape of such reforms.


Both CT and COIN rely on military eradication of terrorists which in turn relies on intelligence and police work.  In addition, both approaches also employ the ‘non-military’ tools of war; CT calls for developing antiterrorism programs and COIN requires bolstering of state power and appealing to local populations support the state’s objections.  These tools, or methods are informational, economic and political/diplomatic.


– Is this strategy different from the one USA uses?

These are two approaches, not one grand strategy and the US is currently, under Obama, downgrading CT and COIN efforts, but it has not successfully defined a strategy toward terrorism either in the wake of 9/11 nor today.


Egypt’s efforts reflect those of national militaries to contain terrorism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and elsewhere, but there are some differences, for example, the above-mentioned problem of an insurgency in a hinterland where the military were initially constrained.  Also,  the Sinai extremists used the fall of president Morsi, who they also considered an apostate (and they condemned the Muslim Brotherhood for participating in Egypt’s political system) as a rallying cause and the combination of their violence and that of other groups, some allied to them on the mainland somewhat magnifies the impact of attempted violence.  Egypt’s tourism sector has been hurt by this violence along with the perception of volatility in the post-revolutionary environment, although there has been some recovery of late.  Also the jihadist movements are international, the Wilayat Sinai breakaway from the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis allied with the Islamic State (in Iraq and Syria, i.e. ISiS) because of the propaganda (or informational) value and it has links with groups in Libya — which are therefore another threat to Egypt. The presence of the MFO (Multinational Force of Observers) in the Sinai means that there could be a threat to that body.  The alienation of the bedouin in the Sinai from the central government is another special factor to consider; this is the result of land ownership policies as well as the counterterrorist response to violence in the Sinai from 2004 – 2011.



– Both countries couldn’t end up terrorism till now, in spite of the long war against it. Why?


Terrorism is not a phenomenon that will be soon ended, nor is it sui generis.  Egypt and the United States continue to face terrorism, so too, all humans are hurt by it since it was used by the Zealots and others in ancient history.  Terrorism is a tactic, and the perpetrators have political and religiopolitical aims.  They can be discouraged from using this tactic, by the use military force and repression, and simultaneous anti-terrorism or anti-insurgency programs and actions of the state.


The previous U.S. Department of Defense name for this – the Long War – is probably an accurate name.  Al-Qa’ida as well as the ISIS, ABM, Wilayat Sinai AQAP, AQIM, Shabab etc. have a long-term grand strategy. Nonetheless,  Egypt’s battle in the Sinai with such groups is winnable —  and it is not facing a popular insurgency in the mainland, as for example existed in Vietnam.


If the Egyptian government had fought as ruthlessly as possible, then it’s possible the conflict might be a shorter one, but as Pres. Sisi himself noted, the public concern for human rights limits the use of tactics which might eradicate such groups  And admittedly, the security forces have not undergone reforms in that regard, and they are facing an enemy using extremely brutal tactics towards them and civilians who are thought to be cooperating with the Egyptian military and police.


– There are violations for human rights in both countries’ experiences in this field, is it necessary to violate human rights while fighting terrorism? How we can avoid that if it’s possible?


Yes, there are violations of human rights by both militaries and also by police in the U.S.  – use of body cameras (introduced in San Francisco & to be used in Egypt), education, enforcement of proper standards in prisoner treatment are all requisites.   It’s up to the leadership to insist on such standards in all militaries and police forces.


Some believe that human rights are violated by the use of emergency laws and military courts.


**Under Presidents Mubarak and Sadat, the use of emergency laws tended to constrain the development of democracy, however, today, nearly all countries have crafted specific terrorism laws which tend to diverge from civil procedures.   In Egypt, a big debate still exists over the “protest law” which is intended to control spontaneous and potentially violent demonstrations.  I think it is entirely reasonable to oppose extrajudicial rendition, torture, and unjust procedures as we saw in Guantanamo and at Abu Ghraib, and also to support harsh legal consequences for acts of terrorism.  The Egyptian system of criminal law differs from that in the U.S., but as far as I can see both aim to deter as well as punish offenders.  The application of emergency law within the buffer area in the Sinai, which has, for example, utilized curfews certainly seemed to be a necessity in that campaign.




– What about the privacy issues? This war made the people’s privacy is nearly zero. Is that justified and acceptable in your opinion?   **I need more clarification of this question in order to answer it



– In 1970s to 1990s Egypt was using the security solutions in fighting terrorism, it could defeat some terrorists but not terrorism. Will Egypt need more 2 decades to reach the same result?


**There is no division between “security solutions” and other solutions – let us say, “development or aid solutions.”  One cannot develop an area like the Sinai or upper Egypt if armed terrorist groups operate freely, moving to assassinate local police or officials in their homes or their vehicles, importing weapons and obtaining cash from outside of Egypt.


As stated above, “security” has to be seen holistically – it also concerns preserving the safety and security of citizens and their government.   Terrorists attack civilians and symbols of the state to try to sway other citizens into treating them as a pseudo-state (thus, the very name, Islamic State).  The Egyptian government has much to overcome, but the employment of many Sinai residents in the new Suez Canal project is a boost to security, as is the awarding of reparations to those forced to leave Rafah during the buffer operation.  Security and trust must be constructed on all fronts at the same time – through forums or meetings with the public, assurance that economic needs will be met and controls over the known security gaps – for ex. the hundreds of tunnels into Gaza or the communications between Sinai and Libyan militants.




– The terrorism is getting more brutality if we compared between the old militants (such as Al-Qaeda) and the new ones such as ISIS. What is the reason in your opinion?


In my opinion, the al-Qa’ida mother-ship group (the original group) under bin Ladin and Zawahiri learned that the use of extremely brutal tactics and sectarian attacks caused the public to hate and fear it and thus damage the long-term aims of such groups.  Bin Ladin was said to oppose attacks on the Shi`a, either because of this counter-productive response or because his neosalafist mentors coming from the Muslim Brotherhood exiles in Saudi Arabia and those they impacted did so.  al-Zawahiri opposed the attacks on Shi`a in Iraq by al-Qa’ida affiliate groups as well.


The Islamic State and Nusra in Syria and Iraq used both carrot and stick approaches, but the media tends to cover their brutal actions and focus less on other factors such as family relationships, actions of revenge and propaganda (public executions).  Like the ABM or WS in the Sinai, they count on the insecurity of the local population and the fact that it is gauging the dangers of cooperating with the state versus themselves.



– How the security sciences and the applications of those sciences developed since 1990s (especially regarding the war on terrorism)?


We should speak of philosophy, theory and practical approaches rather than “sciences.”  The study of war and conflict tends to draw on those maxims or precepts which seem to apply over time.  However, the means of war and technology have altered the applicability of such concepts.


We now possess technologically superior gaming facilities, but the best tool remains the imagination and through red-teaming to consider the most likely set of threats or scenarios and second effects resulting from actions taken.


There are therefore, some new takes on terrorism which arise from older concepts, so for example, material concerning 4th generation warfare; or the Clausewitzian notion of center(s) of gravity which, in today’s terrorist environment are diffused.   The psychological aspects of terrorism have also been studied with the aim of constructing better antiterrorist responses, or to use specific language, preventing the “slippery slope” to violence.    We now must be concerned with so-called lone wolf or sleeper attacks and the coordination of many terrorist groups outside controllable channels.


The relationship between foreign policy goals and aims to control or eradicate terrorism is also being scrutinized by those who are interested in grand strategy.



– Some opinions say that the security solutions is not enough to end up the terrorism, there is a need for intellectuals to play a rule in fighting terrorist ideas, it’s also war of thoughts.. do you agree with that?


**Yes, I agree but there is no point in constructing or insisting on one form of propaganda simply to counter another.   The intellectual war on terrorism has also faltered because we cannot promote freedom – freedom of thought and civil responsibility by accepting a vision of an Islamic society which is not free, but which merely eschews (rejects) violence against the state.


For example, the large Salafiyya Jihad movement in the Sinai are not all involved in terrorism, but they promote a conservative social vision which is unfair to some members of society (for ex. women).  In the United States, many of our Muslim organizations which claim to oppose terrorism “from a Muslim perspective” have a similar vision and therefore do not represent a true reform of the type needed.



– If you are writing a “prescription” to the world leaders to cure the earth planet from terrorism (even, to some extent), what will you write in it?


**I would say that seeing terrorism as an illness for which there is a cure is a mistake.  Remember that terrorism is merely a tactic of war.


Understanding and vigorously countering the aims and claims of terrorists with regard to the use of jihad, takfir, wala wa-l-bara, and their overall conception of a world in which Muslims should battle all others is key.


Supporting intelligence to discover the sources of arms and funding is also key.


Building confidence in a world and local communities where equal opportunities exist is most certainly key to convincing local populations to accept the authority of their own governments.


And the use of force – what you called in this interview, the security solution – is also very much a key and is going to require regional cooperation, not only between Egypt and Saudi Arabia as in this summer’s Cairo Declarations, but beyond.  Many political circumstances have led to the growth and expansion of terrorist groups – in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, the GCC, Iraq, Jordan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and beyond as well as their funders and supporters elsewhere.  De facto arrangements allowing them to remain in certain locations is no solution at all.


#Egypt’s #Sinai Campaign and #Terrorism Beyond July 15 – August 1, 2015

2 Aug

Aug 1. Egypt’s army says it has killed a leading figure in Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis

July 31 Twenty militants killed in strikes in northern #Sinai #Egypt

July 30 The prosecutors in Suez have referred 38 Muslim Brotherhood members to trial for burning cars belonging to the Suez oil company last February

July 29 On the displaced #Sinai families, due to the CT campaign there:

July 29 Egypt is participating in a United Nations counterterrorism meeting including session concerning foreign fighters

July 29 Sinai militancy and possible threat to international forces (the MFO)

July 29 Assets of 78 Muslim Brotherhood members frozen according to Dunne that makes 1300 (not sure of accuracy)

July 28 10 militants killed, 15 others injured during raids by Apache helicopters on terrorists’ hotbeds in S. Sheikh Zwayed, (Hasan Sari)

July 28 Detention renewed for Esra al-Taweel, photojournalist

July 28 Bomb explodes in al-Arish targeting a military vehicle

July 26 A missile (source unknown) fell on a house killing a woman.

July 26 A military court in Suez sentenced 2 Muslim Brotherhood members (in abstentia) for burning a car.

July 26 A bus full of soldiers in Arish was bombed injuring 18 & the Wilayat Sinai claimed responsibility for the bombing. And see

July 25 12 militants killed and 3 of #Egypt‘s officers injured in northern #Sinai

July 24 Two officers and a conscript injured in a blast in Shaykh Zuwayd

July 24 A Croatian citizen was kidnapped in Cairo.

July 23 Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for a bomb attack which killed 4 military personnel in the Sinai.

July 23 #Egypt has managed to silence news of a two-day long #IS#Sinai and #Hamas assault on MFO’s North Camp (according to @debka_english.

July 22 Hisham al-Ashmawy (a former Special Forces officer, leader of al-Murabitoun) called for jihad against Egypt’s “new Pharoah”

July 22 Militants planted IEDs outside the homes of 2 policemen in al-Arish in the Sinai.

July 21 Explosion in Fayyoum near an electricity facility.

July 20 A “killed” conscript in Saturday’s attack in the Sinai was discovered alive.

July 20 The Army spokesman said the military is in control of every inch of the Sinai.

July 19 Death toll from Saturday (18th) was 7 military killed and 59 militants in the Sinai.

July 18 5 army personnel killed (original claim was 3 killed and four injured) in Shaykh Zuwayd.

July 17 6 killed and 3 injured at Talibya in Giza; and in another story, 1 killed in clashes between pro-MB and security at Kerdasa

July 17 Egypt’s security arrested those at Yqeen News – accuse it of being a MB media committee

July 17 #Egypt‘s interior ministry released 424 prisoners today & offered conditional release to 101 presidnt’l pardon. -MENA

July 17 Maj Gen. Osama Bedeir removed as Cairo’s security chief and replaced by Khaled Abdelaal

July 16 Small bomb blast injured police officer at popular square in #Cairo‘s Heliopolis – #Egypt

July 15 Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and Egypt’s military issued conflicting statements on the attack on the Qattamiyya-Suez road

July 15 Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, claimed Wednesday’s truck bomb attack on the (Qattamiyya-) Suez road in which a suicide bomber was killed. (in other reports, appears as a huge explosion)

July 15 198 were referred to military judiciary for terrorist crimes

July 15 The German embassy in Cairo closed after receiving threats of a car bomb

July 15 Quran reader, Mohammed Gebreel not allwd travel to #UK & banned from Quran reading after speaking out against #Egypt‘s govt. (sources like Tariq Ramadan praise him)

July 15 Rabaa al-Adawiyya Square will be renamed for Hisham Barakat, the assassinated prosecutor general

July 15 A policeman was killed in an armed attack on a checkpoint in Remaya Square in Haram. 3 gunmen arrested (Youm 7)

July 15 #Sinai bedouin and the fight against #terrorists #Egypt