The Egyptian people woke up on Friday morning to the news of a terrorist bombing in northern Sinai, killing 26 officers and soldiers and wounding 40 others. Among the dead was Brigadier General Ahmad Al-Mansi, commander of the Thunderbolt Forces. This raises a serious question, as the Thunderbolt Forces do not enter this area. Then, the military statement suddenly changed and did not mention the same things mentioned in their first statement regarding the bombing of a military unit in a suicide bombing. They announced the death of 40 takfirists who attacked the unit. They then leaked a voice recording of Brigadier General Ahmad Al-Mansi asking for help after the unit was destroyed, saying that they will not leave their land, and they will either get justice for our martyrs or die like them.
This leak was broadcasted on all the pro-government official and private channels, and when everyone mocked this clearly fabricated recording, in which he used the same chant chanted by the protestors in Tahrir Square who called for justice for their fellow protestors killed by the police during the January Revolution. They chanted: “Either we get justice for our martyrs or we die like them.” Instead of the people sympathising with him, like the military staff who fabricated and leaked the recording thought would happen, social networking sites were filled with mocking and sarcastic comments regarding the thoughts of the Egyptian military. The military spokesperson had no other choice but to deny the credibility of the recording.
However, between the conflicting military statements which point to a suicide attack and a military attack by Daesh in Sinai, who claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement, we wonder how the Thunderbolt Force unit could be completely destroyed.
It is a well-known fact that the Thunderbolt Forces are the most highly trained and skilled unit, which leads us to the conclusion that the Egyptian fighter is not skilled or trained enough to confront such an attack, despite the fact that they continue to repeat the weak Prophetic hadith: “When you Open Egypt with Islam, take from its people soldiers because they are the best soldiers.” How can they be the best soldiers when they are killed and wounded on a daily basis by an organisation made up of 3,500 amateurs, according to the army’s statements? However, the army also said that it has killed over 5,000 of the organisation’s fighters!
Given the lack of transparency in the operations occurring in Sinai, as the government does not allow any media outlet or correspondents to cover the events in Sinai, we only rely on the statements made by the Armed Forces’ spokespeople. Moreover, since the people always refute official statements, many have predicted that this unit was in Benghazi fighting Haftar’s forces, supported by Al-Sisi militarily, especially since days before this attack, a Libyan website reported the death of a brigadier in the Thunderbolt Forces and his entire squadron. However, no one can confirm this information, despite it being widely circulated on social media.
However, this attack in particular, given its large number of casualties, has alarmed the Egyptian people, as the army seemed to be weak and defeated, after having been a source of pride for the Egyptians. Yet its immersion and involvement in civilian life and its penetration of every part of the state and control over 60 per cent of the Egyptian economy has weakened it militarily. It lost its status amongst the people after it began producing biscuits, pasta, jam and pickles instead of tanks and aircraft.
The current condition of the Egyptian army is unfortunate, especially after Al-Sisi turned it into a mercenary army, sending it to battles it has no interest in. He has sent pilots to Syria and forces to Libya, and most recently, he sent troops to a military base in Bahrain. Al-Sisi is risking the Egyptian army after getting rid of all the national leaderships, replacing them with his followers who are loyal to him, not Egypt. Therein lies the danger of Al-Sisi’s continued rule of Egypt. Is there a savior who can rescue Egypt from loss?
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.