Suddenly, Egyptians woke up to military marches, national songs, military shows of our armed forces and a statement by the official spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces announcing the beginning of the war against terrorist groups in Sinai, and the suspension of studies in schools. Previously, the Internet and communications were completely cut off altogether from Sinai. The governorate was isolated from the rest of the Egyptian governorates, or in a more precise sense, it was besieged following the closure of roads and passageways leading to the neighbouring governorates.
Civilians remained in their homes and protected themselves for fear of being hit by one of the shells which rained down on the Sinai Peninsula, and which do not distinguish between a peaceful citizen and a person claimed to be a terrorist. And so, they bombed houses and factories and burnt farms and destroyed crops and seeds.
Since the regime is still adhering to Gamal Abdel Nasser, and is still a prisoner of the sixties, it has fabricated a television war in the hope that all Egyptians with their tendencies and sects will gather together on the side which would serve its interests, as it happens in all holy wars where the ego and absolute self are fused into the autonomy of the nation and become all-in-one, because their pain and goals become the same. The regime wanted this, but not everything someone wants will necessarily happen.
Media tried to make the citizen live the conditions of this alleged war and put him under its fabricated situations, which is reminiscent of the conditions before the 1967 war and the mass mobilisation which took place to fight against the Zionist enemy. The difference is that the crowds in that period were longing for that holy war, where the enemy who occupied our land is clear to all.
Nowadays, the regime wants to mobilise the crowds on another side, away from the alleged war, which is only known through the ambiguous statements that the Armed Forces issue, and that are filled with exaggeration. These remind the Egyptian citizen of false statements in the 1967 war, which issued the news of the fall of dozens of Zionist enemy aircraft. In this war the citizen does not see a clear enemy in front of him as if the Egyptians are fighting a ghost from space, and add to this the feeling that the war is occurring on Egyptian territories and not in defence of their territories as in the previous wars, and against the Egyptian people and not in defence of them. This has put a psychological barrier between the Egyptian citizen and the war, which made them closer to rejecting it rather than welcoming it, as the regime wanted, especially that the eloquence of strategic experts, who are promoting that television war, made them say that the alleged war is also aimed at protecting the Zionist entity from the infiltration of Takfiri members.
This is a confirmation of what Al-Sisi himself has previously stated in one of his TV interviews, that he will not let Sinai, the backyard of this usurper entity, be a source of concern to the neighbouring countries through the infiltration of terrorist groups from Sinai to them. Therefore, the citizen felt the absurdity of that war, which he has nothing to do with, and he did not consider it as a holy war, for which he would sacrifice his soul and blood. He rather considered that he was throwing the army into a holocaust in Sinai, which is occurring in the name of eliminating terrorism to protect the first terrorist entity in the world and the nation’s historical enemy.
What reinforces what we have mentioned is what The New York Times revealed about a secret alliance between Egypt and the Zionist entity, which allows the latter to carry out air raids on the Sinai Governorate, that more than 100 air strikes have already been carried out, and that they are secretly allied in a hidden war against a common enemy.
This is not the first time that the army has declared a comprehensive operation to eradicate terrorism, but it is the first time that it takes this form of parade with these huge forces of the army. The entire Third Army have been involved in fighting militants, whose numbers are said to be less than 2,500 according to their sources. The last of these was the Operation Martyr’s Right, after which it has been announced that it avenged the martyrs and entirely eliminated the terror strongholds in Sinai; however, the armed operations of these groups increased in quantity and quality, spread throughout the country, and there has been a lot of bloodshed.
The lack of transparency and information from neutral parties makes us completely distant from the reality of what is happening in Sinai. The regime prevents the entry of Egyptian journalists and foreign correspondents to cover the events there, while the television networks in the world broadcast wars on the air as it happened in the Iraq war. Why does the regime resort to this media blackout under the open skies? The Egyptian citizen cannot visit Sinai unless he gets permission from the security service as if Sinai is another country and not a governorate inside Egypt.
The most striking thing this time is the timing of the announcement of the TV war, about a month before the presidential elections, which raised many questions about its real objectives, especially given that it was preceded by the arrest of former army chief of staff, presidential candidate Lieutenant-General Sami Anan. This is in addition to the complaints that have been reported within the army following the humiliation their leader suffered and the last threats of Al-Sisi, which were criticised by his supporters before his opponents, as well as the irony of the international community regarding the comical elections show, which all national forces and parties boycotted.
So he needs to improve his image abroad, which is the most important thing, and there is no better of doing this than fighting terrorism on behalf of the whole world, saying that he is their protector and claiming a false victory over terrorism and eliminating it before the election date. Thus, he can get regional and international support from the continuation of his regime, and that it is necessary to complete the battle and perhaps he will even secure a global delegation to help him fight terrorism.
Second, this war may be used to stop the show election by claiming that the country is in a state of war that does not allow any political action. It was done by Gamal Abdel Nasser during the war in Yemen in 1965, and he will follow in his footsteps.
Third, the most important objective in my view in this futile war is emptying the areas required for the Sinai deal under the pretext of fighting terrorism. The events may develop by launching Israeli incursions into Gaza, and the authorities will open corridors through the border wall to allow Palestinians fleeing the shelling to be sheltered in Sinai for humanitarian reasons. This will be codified later in the deal of the century, which is planned to be announced by US President Trump in March.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.