What Egypt needs now – Part I, Sinai
By Prof. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis
With the bomb explosion that killed more than 30 soldiers and triggered the proclamation of a 3-month state of emergency across North Sinai Governorate, came to an end all the dreams that the newly elected president El Sissi would assuredly put Egypt back on the correct path and quickly reinstall order as it had been before the thunderous Friday 28 January 2011, the day that shook former president Mubarak’s regime from its foundations.
What most people fail to notice is the timing of the tragic event; occurred after the collapse of Sanaa, the Yemenite capital, to the Houthi rebels of Yemen’s extreme North, the bomb explosion took place after more than a month of fighting at Kobani (Ayn al Arab) in North Syria, and while chaotic strife has been attested across the region from Libya to Gaza to South Sudan. The news in detailed and accurate form can be found here: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2014-10/25/c_127139288.htm and http://www.rt.com/search/everywhere/term/egypt/
It was therefore only normal for Juan Cole to wonder whether Egypt’s Sinai is going the way of Syria (http://www.juancole.com/2014/10/egypts-troops-militants.html).
The map was included in Juan Cole’s article
Why Israel needs to detach the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt
The aforementioned is enough for any objective observer to realize that the next stage for destabilization in the region will take place in Egypt. This is at least what events of such scale suggest. It can really become an inferno quite soon, if one takes into consideration the explosive situation at the ground and the existing parallel plans providing for chaos, fratricidal conflicts, and ultimate dismemberment of the country. These plans are very real and very serious; they have little to do with the globally evident advocates of the decomposed but not defunct Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al Muslimeen). The real composers and promoters of the anti-Egyptian schemes are not as ostensible as Qatar and Turkey are, and to deceive many, they usually appear as rather recommending if not applauding Egypt’s stance in regional affairs.
Destabilization in the Sinai Peninsula is certainly part of Israel’s medium term targets; the racist governments of the Zionist state are currently engaged in a dramatic search for a sizeable hinterland. The reason is simple; their illegal entity stands on a very small piece of land that forces them not to make concessions in order to achieve peace with those among the Palestinians who are ready for a final ‘peace for land’ deal. In this, the Zionists are ‘technically’ right; a state as small and narrow as Israel was within its 1967 borders is really indefensible in the 2010s.
But the anxious character of Zionist journalists like Matt Lee and Joshua Davidovich when writing about the currently troublesome US-Israeli relationship (http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-officials-israel-defense-chief-denied-meetings/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=5f63cc2285-2014_10_25&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_adb46cec92-5f63cc2285-54783545 & http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-reportedly-denies-yaalon-request-to-meet-with-kerry-biden/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=5f63cc2285-2014_10_25&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_adb46cec92-5f63cc2285-54783545) reveals that the Zionist state authorities feel clearly that they should not rely exclusively of US support for their future plans. The recent visit if Israel’s Minister of Defense in the US was an opportunity for the American administration to humiliate a cumbersome ally which proves to be otherwise useless for the changes that the US administration intends to impose on the wider region.
To the rapacious Zionist authorities, the Sinai Peninsula – three times the size of Israel – offers a wonderful opportunity for retreat, involving extensive transfer of populations, extensive capabilities for successive defense lines, and lengthy coastal zones already equipped with a really great tourism infrastructure. More importantly, the local population does not exceed 400000 people (almost one fifth – 1/5 – of the population of Gaza strip) with no major urban centers except Al Arish that totals more than 25% of the entire peninsula’s population.
As it is expected that many people will emigrate to Egypt, if Sinai is declared independent or autonomous under a vague Bedouin ‘political control’ (which would be a euphemism for the Israeli protectorate), it will be very easy for the Zionist military and security forces to implement an undisputed control in the new Eldorado of Zionism. Only then, the Zionist political class will show ‘magnanimous’ enough to concede to the Palestinian Authority all the territories occupied in the 1967 war, with some specific arrangements to be made for the status of Jerusalem (international city and common capital of the three Abrahamic faiths).
The Zionist state’s commitment to the ‘Sinai for Israel’ scenario however contravenes certain American plans for the wider region, and this generated the currently escalating US-Israeli diplomatic row. America wants to force Palestinians and Israelis to sign a final agreement involving land concessions; Israel cannot accept this before a retreat possibility becomes a reality; this produces further instability in the Sinai because the only means chosen by Israel is simulation; and this increases the instability in the peninsula where US operatives already implement divergent plans.
The time schedule is therefore tight, because the Zionist state needs to have results in the Sinai before the obstinate Israeli rejection of US pressure toward a final ‘land for peace’ agreement with the Palestinian Authority damages the US-Israeli relationship irreparably.
The annexation of Sinai by Israel will be a very easily done job because the Zionist populations have learned how to be new settlers here and there, can afford cold winter, mountainous environment, and harsh conditions of life for a certain period of time, whereas they can rely on an inexorable financial backing that dwarfs all the dire needs that may be ensuing from a massive population transfer in otherwise inaccessible regions. In other words, Israeli cities on the rocky mountains of the Sinai would be a rather cost-efficient expansion.
Can Egypt oppose Israel’s plans in the Sinai Peninsula?
To this hypothetical question there can be only one answer. In fact, theoretically, every threat can be timely averted if timely assessed. At this very moment, it is not clear whether the rulers of Egypt clearly understand that in the Sinai Peninsula the major threat comes from Israel, and not from America, Europe or the … Islamists. The latter are mere agents of the secret services of some Western countries; by themselves they do not constitute a decision making center – pretty much like Al Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL, the fake caliphate.
In fact, the timing and the extent of the recent explosion clearly indicate that it cannot be America. At present, the US do not harbor destabilization plans for Egypt’s northeast where the Sinai Peninsula lies; the US would rather prefer security, calm and peace to prevail in that specific region, because these are prerequisites for Egypt to keep the Gaza border open, and this is exactly what the US wants in order to revitalize / reequip / reinforce (not directly but via proxies) Hamas, a valuable tool for US pressure over Israel. But now, Egypt closed the Gaza border, which is exactly what Israel needs.
The relatively recent sort of Zionist literature as per which Israel’s real allies under the current circumstances are Egypt and Saudi Arabia (and not the US and Europe) represents a tool for the Zionist propaganda, and it is quite dangerous for Egypt, if the confusion is spread and the deception is believed.
The worst mistake for the current Egyptian government would be to continue its relationship with Israel, as if nothing happened. In fact, the borders with Israel must close for security reasons. No Israeli tourist must be accepted in Egypt.
The myth of the Israeli tourist in Egypt, particularly in Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera from Dahab to Qusseir, lasted too long and harmed the country too much in order to be still believed. There were never Israeli tourists in Egypt; there were Israeli secret services agents impersonating the tourists and acting accordingly under their inconspicuous apparel.
Imposing the state of emergency in North Sinai, closing the Gaza border, shutting the Israel border down, and canceling the arrival of all Israeli tourists are only preliminary measures.
The Egyptian government must soon take and rapidly implement two sets of measures, short term (up to 3-4 months) and medium term (5 months to 2 years)
Short term measures that Egypt must take in Sinai over the next 3-4 months
1- An increased military presence, disguised as local police or national security and gendarmerie, must put all parts of the Sinai Peninsula, inhabited and uninhabited, frequented and non-frequented, mountainous or not, accessible and inaccessible, under complete 24×7 controls and permanent patrolling. The force needed for this is at least equivalent to 500000 soldiers, and Egypt should be partly mobilized. (7 soldiers per km2 is a minimal prerequisite in this regard)
2- To better implement point 1 policy, thousands of military outposts will have to be erected and put into effect. They will have to be disguised as police outposts to allow the country to be in conformity with international treaties. The entire Sinai Peninsula will have thus to be turned to a vast military camp.
3- All homes, residences and buildings must be searched extensively, meticulously, unexpectedly and repeatedly, vast repertories must be made, all movements of individuals and all personal contacts monitored and registered, whereas all travels to and out of the area must be blocked for all.
4- Through use of all types of methods and technologies combined, all parts of the Sinai territory must be searched scrupulously and all possible underground depots and stores of arms and ammunition discovered. It is to be anticipated that huge caches of arms will be discovered in the process because the pernicious infiltration started many years ago.
5- The Egyptian navy will have to effectuate a maritime blockade of the Sinai Peninsula alongside both, the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, coasts. Tourist movements from Hurghada to Sharm el Sheikh will have to be submitted to border-level baggage control, and the same measure will have to apply in all domestic and international flights for all passengers whatsoever. Fishing boats will have to be checked on daily basis.
6- A second ‘border’ line must be delineated and all tourist sites across Sinai’s western and eastern coasts (linked only through Suez to the rest of the country) must be totally cut off from the rest of the peninsula, all roads patrolled, individual tourism banned, and any movement between the two zones strictly prohibited. With the exception of St. Catherine’s monastery all other sightseeing destinations in the Sinai inland must be canceled. Only convoy movements must be allowed across the roads leading to St. Catherine’s monastery.
7- The Egyptian state authorities must have the absolute conviction that several thousands of Egyptian citizens originating from the Sinai Peninsula have been working for years as different level agents of the Zionist state; otherwise inevitably, Egypt will lose the battle of the Sinai and the country’s national integrity will be subsequently affected. This makes the following measure unavoidable. With the exception of the tourist resorts alongside the coasts and St. Catherine’s monastery, Internet connection and mobile communication must be suspended for time indefinite. This should apply to Rafah, Al Arish, and all other urban centers, hamlets, and locations.
8- With the exception of the tourist resorts alongside the coasts and St. Catherine’s monastery, no foreigner under any circumstances or pretexts whatsoever should be allowed to move across Sinai, involving diplomats, NGOS, representatives of international bodies, etc.
9- The Egyptian state authorities must have the absolute conviction that it is not only the Palestinians who are specializing in the construction of tunnel; the Zionist government has commissioned different agencies that offer job positions to unspecialized ‘Jewish’ labor from Russia and other countries, and they have also been working secretly for quite a long period. There are several Israeli tunnels crossing the Egyptian Sinai borders in greater depth than that of the Palestinian underground passages; the Israeli tunnels reach at distances of dozens of kilometers inside the Egyptian territory in the Sinai. Through these passageways, weaponry has been systematically smuggled into Egypt and laboriously stored in various caches in the desert and the mountains, Bedouins working as Mossad agents have moved into Israel for special training and then returned ‘home’, and Israeli forces specializing in guerilla and false flag attacks have repeatedly crossed the borders to perform their criminal acts and then run back to Israel and thus disappear.
To address this situation and make sure that nothing can be smuggled any more into their targeted country, the Egyptian authorities must undertake another project of enormous dimensions immediately. The army will only supervise the project, but a civil authority must be commissioned in this regard, and a great number of unspecialized jobless Egyptians (a hundred thousand as per modest estimates) will have to be ‘hired’ on temporary basis and with minimum salary (corvée) to form the utility teams that will materialize the enormous project.
From Rafah to Ayn al Qusaymah to Al Kuntillah and thence to Taba, a huge trench must be dug with a length of more than 300 kilometers; with an initial width of 20 to 30 meters, the trench (or canal) should be at least 100 m deep to have the chance to reach/surpass the level of the Israeli underground passageways and make them useless. Work must start in many different points at the same time and the different utility teams that will be working in parallel will have to advance in two opposite directions in order to reach the points where other digging teams will have advanced to.
Meanwhile, the hinterland behind the trench should be systematically patrolled during the works as per above point 1.
Initially undertaken for security measures, and permanently maintained ever since, this project could later be upheld and the utility teams be further employed after the completion of the works to eventually turn the project to a second Suez Canal, linking Rafah to Taba.
The above short term measures must be taken immediately and carried out within a 3-4 month period with the only exception made for point 8 that will last longer. With the completion of the implementation of the above measures, national security and civil order will prevail, and this will involve the gradual alleviation or even termination of some of the aforementioned measures.
Then, the path will open for the roll-out of the medium term measures that will have meanwhile to be completed at the study level.
Medium term measures that Egypt must take in Sinai over the next 3-4 years
The Sinai Peninsula was never inhabited by settled populations in significant numbers throughout its entire millennia long history; to the Ancient Egyptians, it was known as Biau, i.e. the land of mines, and there were important temples, like Serabit al Khadim. Early writing systems have also been attested in parts of the peninsula; the vestiges of Proto-Sinaitic writing fully demonstrate that it was a derivative of the Egyptian Hieratic writing, used however not for the Ancient Egyptian language, but for the local Canaanite language that was spoken among the few inhabitants. Modern scholarship successfully identified significant historical mines across the peninsula, but this does not change in anything the reality that there has never been any major city, harbor, port of call, entrepot, market place, trading center or caravan stopover in Sinai. Its name derived from that of the Ancient Assyrian Babylonian god Sin, who symbolized the moon, epitomized the peninsula’s rather inhospitable character.
Serabit al Khadim – Drawing from the Denkmaeler, the publication of the findings studied and the explorations undertaken by the Prussian Archaeological Expedition led by R. Lepsius (1840)
Serabit al Khadim
Serabit al Khadim
Serabit al Khadim
Scarcity of population, borderline area, mountainous environment, semiarid zones, and the heavy burden of history are dimensions of the Sinai Peninsula identity that have impacted modern Egyptian attitude toward the triangular geographic oddity of Sinai.
Now, to save its targeted province, Egypt is called to change History.
Viewing the Egyptian governmental policies retrospectively, one has to admit that the successive Mubarak administrations must be credited for having slightly modified the Egyptian attitude toward Sinai, and this was expressed through the rise of the tourism industry. Viewed from the exclusive standpoint of money income, this policy was not bad, but if one takes into consideration the existing geopolitical challenges, one has to conclude that Mubarak administrations’ view of the Sinai was narrow-minded, shriveled, and therefore dangerous.
Finally, Mubarak administrations’ laissez faire ended up in the explosive situation that we have got in our hands today.
To counterbalance the existing challenges and hedge the imminent dangers in Sinai, Egypt needs only a visionary’s look over the country’s problems. In fact, Sinai, as it is now, offers an excellent opportunity to Egypt’s administrations to solve – to some extent – other serious problems of the Nile Valley and the Delta.
Today’s Egypt, even considered as deprived of enemies, threats and challenges, has very serious problems, and at the top of the list one finds the overpopulation of a small stretch of land, the Valley of Nile. With over 90 million people almost all condensed in the small narrow valley of the Nile and the Delta (much less than 10% of the country’s territory), Egypt faces one of the world’s most explosive demographics. This does not bode well for the future of any country.
The measure of a medium and long term success hinges only on changing the following, lethally perilous demographics assessment; with an estimated 75% of Egyptians being under 25 and with a meager 3% being over 65, the country’s population lives on a small part of the country’s territory (ca. 6%) whereby the density average is over 1540 persons per km2. This cannot last longer.
The gravity of the situation is revealed here:
The best defensive line that Egypt can draw across Sinai is the transformation of the peninsula into a remarkably inhabited province. New cities have to be built, semiarid territories have to become arable cultivated lands, and basically urban populations must be transferred from Cairo, the Delta, and Upper Egypt to Sinai. Factories must be transferred; universities must be relocated; the necessary transportation, habitation, and telecommunication infrastructure must be made available; new businesses, new manufactures, and systematic cattle management must be planned and launched in every single corner of the peninsula, and no less that 5-6 million people must be transferred from the aforementioned areas to the Sinai within a period of 3-4 years, following a 6-month planning session.
It has to be carefully planned and programmed with a perspective of population expansion up to 15-20 million, involving new cities, towns and villages in the coast lands, in the semiarid desert, and in the mountains. Furthermore, it has to be forcefully implemented, involving motivations and stimuli that will mark very differently the lives of the transferred populations, making of them the new elite of the country.
If there were today 6 million Egyptians living across Sinai, one can be sure that never ever would the Zionist state elaborate annexation plans and attempt to implement them. Massive population transfer to the Sinai is a medium-long term measure, which may irrevocably egyptianize the Egyptian territory before it is lost forever.
In a forthcoming article, I will examine what other measures the current Egyptian administration has to envisage for the country’s future in order to fully eliminate the grave problems that it inherited from earlier colonial and postcolonial, lethargic or unrealistic rulers of either the vice-royal or the republican times.
A map for the Egyptian administration to study closely (and the related texts: http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/kovach/091013). In this case, historical accuracy matters little; what is important to seize in this regard is that there are people (and lobbies, associations, secret organizations, etc. standing behind them) who utterly believe in this type of distortions and falsehood. These are the people who have the power and shape the real decisions that presidents and prime ministers only implement. Of course, statesmen and politicians will turn down the importance of such people and of their ideas. But if we examine things from distance and through the perspective of centuries (and not that of years or months), we will immediately realize that such plans have been worked out in the wider region, and that the local, pseudo-Islamic, and utterly silly religious authorities and the idiotic rulers, like Saddam Hussein, Qadhafi, Hafez and Bashar al Assad, Hassan II and Mohammed VI of Morocco, Bourguiba, Zin Al Abedin, Abdallah of Jordan, Buteflika, Abdallah of Saudi Arabia, Ali Abdallah, Hosni Mubarak, and Omar Al Bashir – and their services – failed to detect, let alone assess, evaluate and outmaneuver them.