Are the latest terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations?

Updated 22 February 2019
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Are the latest terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations?

  • Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability

CAIRO: Three terrorist attacks in the space of as many days have raised questions over whether the Egyptian security forces have brought extremist militancy in the country under control.

The attacks between Friday and Monday came after a period of relative calm. The Egyptian military has been involved in an extensive operation against terrorist groups in their stronghold in the Sinai Peninsula for more than a year. Police forces have also been carrying out operations against cells in a large number of governorates.

The first of the three incidents was a failed attempt to plant a bomb near security forces in Cairo on Friday. On Saturday, however, a massive blast killed 14 members of the military on a security mission near El-Arish in Sinai.
The third bombing on Monday could have been just as deadly. A suicide bomber blew himself up after he was chased by police in the densely populated Al-Hussein district of Cairo near Al-Azhar Mosque. In the end three officers were killed.
The attacks came after months of relative calm in an insurgency that began after the Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammad Mursi was removed from power in 2012.
Since then, militants have targeted the Egyptian security forces, churches, coptic Christians, tourists and ordinary Egyptians, killing hundreds.
In November 2017, gunmen carried out the deadliest terror attack in Egyptian history — killing more than 300 people at a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai.

In response, the military launched a vast operation in February last year to “eliminate terrorism in Egypt.” The operation is ongoing.

Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability.

“[Terrorists] want to give Egypt a bad image to foreigners living abroad, on order to make a point. They want to abort the democratic reform process that Egypt’s been implementing in the past period,” MP Mohamed Maher Hamed told Arab News.

Author and political analyst Walid Qutb said Egypt is keen to host more important regional and international events and forums, including the African Nations football tournament, and a drop in terror-related incidents is key to this.

He said the return of terrorist operations at this time is an attempt to send a clear message that Egypt is not a safe country. What the extremists have done recently is a final dance and lost, Qutb said.
But political analyst Nabil Omar told Arab News that the elimination of terrorism requires more than just maintaining security forces.
There needs to be improved education and the spreading of correct information to improve the mentality of Egyptians, he said.
“I don’t think that the return of terrorist operations happening currently is linked to changes in politics in Egypt,” Omar said. “It has nothing to do with how well security is either. “Terrorist attacks are happening because the terrorists in question have decided to do so.”
The recent incidents in Cairo are both strange, Omar said. They targeted police forces in locations packed with civilians.
This could mean that terrorists want their attacks to be even bigger and deadlier, even if that comes at the cost of the innocent or unarmed.
“The positive thing here is that these recent terrorist attacks came after a long period of silence. During that period of time, the Egyptian military had the upper hand in relation to the terrorists – who used to be more in control before,” Omar said.
The attacks came after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi described to the Munich Security Summit this week the Egyptian experience in regards to terrorism.


New Algerian group urges Bouteflika to step down, and army not to interfere

Algerian protesters have been demonstrating for the past 3 weeks against the government. (AFP/File)
Updated 22 min 56 sec ago
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New Algerian group urges Bouteflika to step down, and army not to interfere

  • The group released a statement urging the government to resign
  • A number of prominent Algerians joined the group

ALGIERS: A new Algerian group headed by political leaders, opposition figures and activists has called on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down at the end of his term on April 28, and urged the army not to interfere in politics.

In a statement titled “Platform of Change,” the National Coordination for Change also pushed the government to resign, after more than three weeks of mass demonstrations against Bouteflika’s 20-year rule.

“There is an urgent need to make radical changes of the system in place with new personnel,” said the group.

Algerian authorities have always been able to manipulate a weak opposition. But new influential opponents have emerged from growing protests that peaked on Friday, with hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Algiers.

Prominent members of the new group include lawyer and human rights activist Mustapha Bouchachi, opposition leader Karim Tabou and former treasury minister Ali Benouari, as well as two well-known Islamists, Mourad Dhina and Kamel Guemaz.