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Presidential adviser says peace treaty is cause of tension in Sinai

February 17, 2014 at 11:19 pm

An adviser to the Egyptian president has said that the blame for the current tension and unrest in Sinai has to rest with the terms of the peace treaty with Israel. Mohamed Seif El Dawla, who advises President Mohammed Morsi on Arab Affairs, pointed out that the treaty imposes many restrictions on Egypt, especially with regards to the deployment of troops across the Sinai Peninsula. “The restrictions affect our sovereignty over the territory, resulting in the growth of lawlessness,” he said.

Speaking to Quds Press, Mr El Dawla insisted that until there is a return to full sovereignty for Egypt in Sinai, “there will be no solution to the current crisis”. The government in Cairo, he stressed, must be able to deploy as many troops as are necessary to maintain law and order. “There are 400,000 Egyptian citizens living in Sinai,” he added, “and their security needs must be addressed.”

Sinai is experiencing an unprecedented level of tension, especially in the North Sinai Governorate, where soldiers have been attacked and killed by armed groups at a time when the relationship between the Egyptian authorities and Bedouin tribes is particularly fraught.

Addressing the same topic, the strategic thinker and former deputy minister of foreign affairs, Abdullah Al-Ashaal, said that the ongoing situation in the Sinai region represents social chaos and the loss of hope. Looking beyond Egypt’s borders, he suggested that the role of “Israeli conspiracies” in the unrest “should not be overlooked”.

Nevertheless, Al-Ashaal agreed that the solution “lies in the need of the state to have a strong and just presence inside Sinai” as well as bringing the region back into the fold of Egyptian society over the next four years or so. “Strategic planning, not just reaction to events, is important,” he added, “including reconstruction of the Sinai as a priority and a regular, strong security presence.”

The former diplomat called for a special law which, although having an impact on individual freedoms, would allow the government to control the regional borders much more effectively.