“As long as the Egyptian blood is not worth a cent… We should overthrow every president.” This was the phrase that the Egyptians kept repeating after every act that brought about a few deaths in the wake of the January 2011 revolution, but they have never expected a day to come when murder becomes as normal as it is now.
In the last few days, there has been an unprecedented escalation, with more than 160 Egyptian victims who were killed in just two weeks, whether in confrontations between security authorities and armed groups, or in the eradication of the regime’s opponents, or in attempts to leave the country.
Despite the fact that the coup leader, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, has deployed the country’s institutions to fight against “terrorism”, the armed attacks escalated and became more daring, according to observers. The most recent of these was the attack against security forces in the south of Rafah, last Friday, which killed 26 soldiers from the armed forces; 40 armed men, according to the official version of events; and more than 60 soldiers and five gunmen, according to a Daesh statement in which it claimed responsibility for the operation.
On the same day, unidentified gunmen shot a national security officer dead in front of his house in Qalyubia Governorate. A day earlier, an army recruit was wounded in a security post in Giza while two retired army officers and a soldier were also killed in an armed attack on 5 July in Giza too.
Eradicating the opposition
In a related context, Egypt has been witnessing since the July coup in 2013 illegal targeting operations of dozens of the regime’s opponents and enforced disappearances by the security authorities of the army and the police for allegedly belonging to terrorist movements. However, in the last few days, these operations have escalated sharply, which indicates that the Egyptian regime insists on exterminating its opponents, according to observers.
On Wednesday, the coup’s Interior Ministry announced that one person was killed in Cairo, and it claimed he was one of the leaders of the Arms of Egypt Movement, known as the Hasm Movement. It also killed another young man last Tuesday in the Faiyum-Cairo road and killed six people last Monday in Asyut governorate, claiming they belonged to Daesh.
Last Saturday, the Ministry of Interior also assassinated 14 opponents in the Ismailia governorate, and it announced they had something to do with the Rafah attack. In addition, it killed two other people in the 6th of October city in Giza, who were later found to have been forcibly disappearing for several months.
Death on the Road to Exile
The spilling of Egyptian blood did not stop with the armed attacks or physical elimination but continued with the death of dozens of young men who were attempting to migrate to Libya. The Libyan Red Crescent declared on Saturday that it had found the bodies of 48 Egyptians who had died of thirst in the desert near the city of Tobruk.
Libyan authorities confirmed that the Egyptian government did not offer any assistance to receive the bodies of the victims. The coup’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, announced that it is observing the situation along with the Libyan side and is willing to take the necessary measures to return the bodies of the victims and identify them.
While commenting on these successive incidents, the Professor of Political Science Abdul Khabyr Attiyah stated:
there is a clear security and intelligence failure on the part of the army and police that has made the country vulnerable to successive terrorist attacks for years in most provinces and especially Sinai.
He further explained to Arabi21 that “the killing of hundreds of soldiers, police officers and civilians was apparently not enough for the regime to learn how to control the situation and stop this nightmare that we have been living through for more than four years.”
Attiyah went on explaining that “under the pretext of the war on terrorism, political life was dredged, and a single voice policy where only the voice of the president became audible was adopted. Every other dissenting voice has been accused of treachery. This was reflected negatively on the economic, social and security conditions and forced a large number of young men to emigrate abroad, even if they put their lives on the line while trying to escape from the disgraceful reality in Egypt to the unknown.”
An unprecedented war
The Professor of Political Science Mustapha Kamel affirmed that Egypt is witnessing an unprecedented “war against terrorism”, stressing that “the army and police forces are paying a dear price by losing their lives in this war that is conducted by countries that seek to bring the Egyptian army to pieces.”
Kamel declared in statements he made to Arabi21 that the killing of a large number of young people in this short period is explained by the “intensifying terrorist actions against Egypt,” pointing out that ” there is probably a security failure, especially in Sinai, and some ambiguity and lack of experience on how to manage wars and the nature of these wars in this volatile region.”
He also pointed out that “the security services increase their oppression under the pretext of eliminating terrorism, which is also taken as a pretext to eliminate the suspects and arrest thousands of people.” He highlighted that “these conditions affect the state of young people and push them to travel abroad or resort to illegal migration after they have lost any hope for a normal life in their country.”
Translated from Arabi21, 13 July 2017
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.