As an Egyptian I am totally frightened by the situation in the past couple of days in Sinai and along the border with Gaza. This is not an over alarmist position. The situation in Sinai now poses the greatest threat to Egypt’s national security.
Immediately after electricity was cut from Gaza we saw a movement by Palestinians towards the Egyptian borders. At first came the women and after them the militia men started blowing up holes in the border which led to the situation going totally out of control and an estimated 700,000 Palestinians entering Sinai.
The Egyptian President gave a speech in which he stated that Egypt would not allow the starvation of Palestinians. Although it was clearly a late attempt to show that he was in control and that he had let the Palestinians in, his words gave me no relief. The situation continued to escalate and more holes were blown on the border and more Palestinians came in. The border became a joke as it became a freeman’s land allowing even Egyptian bloggers to enter into Gaza and meet Ismail Haneya. This is in itself a joke. I mean the guy that is supposedly the second sought man by Israel after Nasrallah is easy to locate and sit with. Where are those supposed assassination attempts by Fatah that Hamas was screaming about just a few days ago? More hilarious is that Ismail Haneya, seems to be having a lot of free time to sit with bloggers. Instead of doing his job the guy is giving interviews.
I am honestly disgusted of those Arab Nationalists, Socialists and Islamists who have been screaming for decades about Egypt’s National Security. They have been giving us lectures in strategy and nationalism and that Egypt’s national security is not limited to its boarders. Whether they talked about Palestine as a national security issue for Egypt, or they reached the Pakistani boarders, they continued to argue for national security for Egypt and have made Egypt pay for 59 years with its own blood and wellbeing for the greater Arab Cause. What shocks me is that when Egypt is itself under threat they have shut up and called for demonstrations against the Egyptian government and its position in Gaza. I am the last person on earth to support the Egyptian government, but seriously what do you want them to do Mr. Heakal and the rest of the so called experts? Do you want us to take them all in???
It also is quite surprising that just 1 day after the electricity shut off, thousands were storming the borders. I mean with all due respect to everyone, people do not starve in 1 day!!!
I am not against letting people in. Egypt is bound by international law to take refugees fleeing, but I seriously question the way this was done. People crossing any border should be at least be registered and searched. Israel has been arguing lately that Egypt is not doing enough in stopping weapons smuggling through the tunnels. Now with the situation being complete chaos on the borders there is no way to stop the weapons going in or for this matter going out.
Any Palestinian crossing the border could take with him weapons and explosions and supply them to Al Qaeda affiliated groups in Sinai. With Al Qaeda reportedly being active in Gaza this scenario seems very possible. Even if it was not Al Qaeda, Gaza is full of weapons and not just by Hamas. Weapons are available there for every street gang and organized family crime. Can anyone take the risk of some El Kassam rockets being available to be fired at Hotels in Sharm El Sheikh. In addition to this it would be interesting to see how the situation on the borders is affecting Tourism in Sinai. Egypt is heavily dependent on Tourism income and any drop in Tourists would have a huge effect on the Egyptian economy.
Even if my fears of weapon smuggling and terrorist acts prove to be premature, there is no way to determine that the people crossing into Sinai do not include thugs and thieves.
Once again no one is saying that Palestinians should starve or die. If the situation inside Gaza proves to be a humanitarian crises, a humanitarian action should be considered not on the bases of Arab Nationalism but on pure humanity. In that case humanitarian assistance going to Gaza or some cases that need medical assistance going into Egypt is expected, but before they are let in an action plan needs to be formulated that takes into consideration the humanitarian situation and more importantly Egypt’s national interests and security.
Gaza should not be turned into Egypt’s problem. Israel since its disengagement and withdrawal from Gaza has been looking for ways to deal with it. With the world viewing Gaza as still Israel’s problem, Israel has been looking for ways to officially disengage from Gaza. Noah Pollak and David Hazony have written excellent articles on the matter in contentions. Although worth reading is Alex Fishman’s piece.
Is Egypt ready to take responsibility not just for a short period, but permanently for Gaza? Are we ready to deal with the situation there?
The current situation allows Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to go on with the Peace process and reach a 2 State solution, while Egypt willingly or unwillingly is left to deal with Gaza, whether by assuming control there as it did before 1967 or by taking a huge number of refugees on a permanent basis inside Sinai, from the already overpopulated Gaza.
In whose interest is this?
It defiantly is not in Egypt’s best interests.