I would first like to begin by expressing my deepest condolences to the families of the Egyptian soldiers that were killed in the Sinai Peninsula. I would also like to offer my condolences to the officers of the Egyptian Armed Forces over the death of their fellow officers following this aggression.
What happened is truly unfortunate and we, in Qatar and the rest of the Arab world condemn and denounce it. We strongly urge everyone to come together and eradicate the causes behind such acts of violence and encouragement of terrorism, whether inside or outside Egypt.
The bombings in Sinai on October 24, 2014 were not the first of their kind and will not be the last. Bombings in this region date back to early 2000, and there have been over 27 bombings that targeted economic, tourist, and military sites including Israeli. In 2004 and 2005, bombings occurred in the Taba area of Sharm el-Sheikh, during the reign of the ousted president Hosni Mubarak, as well as after his reign, during the rule of the military junta led by General Tantawi. There were also bombings during the shortest rule in Egyptian history; that of the elected civilian president Mohamed Morsi, as well as now, during the rule of the field marshal, President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi.
The question is why are all these bombings occurring in the Sinai Peninsula and not in any other parts of Egypt? The answer, according to credible information, is that the residents of Sinai are treated by the state as second-class citizens, at best, or sometimes even as third-class citizens. This area, which covers over 6 per cent of Egypt's total area and has a population of over 500,000 people, has not seen any reconstruction or development. The people of Sinai say that the tourist and economic investment in Egypt have gone to the beaches and coastline and that these resorts only serve a small group of people, and do not reach the Egyptians in Sinai. The state attends only to the central parts of Sinai while depriving the rest from any kind of development. This is an underlying problem of the unrest in the Sinai that needs addressing.
President Al-Sisi is accused foreign parties of being behind the events in Sinai, by which he is referring to the people of besieged Gaza in order to deflect legitimate accusations of neglecting the people of Sinai over many decades. When facing trials and tribulations, corrupt dictatorships normally put the blame on a specific foreign force in order to take punitive measures against such forces. For example, Israel was the mastermind behind the assassination of the Israeli ambassador in London on June 3, 1982. The assassination of the Israeli ambassador was used as a pretext for the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. On June 12, 2006, it waged another war on Lebanon under the pretext of the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by the Lebanese resistance forces in South Lebanon. On June 12, 2014, three settlers were kidnapped in the southern West Bank, and Israel accused Hamas for the kidnapping and used it as a pretext to wage a war on the Gaza Strip that lasted over 55 days.
Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in insisting that it was Palestinians in Gaza who carried out this assault against the Egyptian Army is threatening the strip with destruction. Al-Sisi's presence amongst the leaders of the Egyptian armed forces, his combative words combined with the indefinite closure of the Rafah crossing raises the dangerous possibility that they Egyptian regime is preparing Egyptian public opinion for a raid on the Gaza Strip, just like the Israelis.
I say to Field Marshal Al-Sisi, the leader of the coup in Egypt and president of Egypt, the Egyptian army and its soldiers at the crossing that the people of Gaza harbour no hatred and animosity towards them. They also shouldn't believe unverified reports accusing Palestinians for the events in Sinai. These are Israeli reports meant to inflame Egypt and its people. These reports are also specifically designed to bring more pressure on the beleaguered Palestinians in Gaza. The Egyptian army should not be in any doubt that the weapons of the resistance in Gaza and their men have their eyes and guns aimed at Jerusalem, and nowhere else. The people of Gaza are not the ones committing atrocities against the Egyptian army and the security of Egypt; the people of Gaza have supported you and your armed forces in your confrontation against those targeting Egypt's safety and security throughout history.
As for Mahmoud Abbas, he hasn't tired of abandoning the rights of the Palestinian people in general, and especially the people of Gaza. Since the cursed Oslo Accords was signed in 1993, which he was a part of, and until today, Abbas, who was first in the chain of command and then at the top of the PA hierarchy, has not achieved any success for the Palestinian people. His most recent unforgiveable act was to send telegram to the Egyptian president, Field Marshal Al-Sisi, following the recent events in Sinai confirming his support for all the measures taken by Al-Sisi's government in Egypt, including the intensification of the blockade on the Gaza Strip. According to Mahmoud Abbas, he believes that such measures serve the Palestinian cause and Arab national security.
I will end by saying to the people of Palestine, if you want to restore your rights, preserve your unity, and reinforce your strength, look for a leader who puts the interests of the Palestinian people before his own. Abbas is no longer fit to lead you and this is clearly proven by his actions over many years.
Translated from Al-Sharq newspaper, 28 October, 2014
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.