The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Sinai's bedouins have had enough

Since the 2004 attack on the Taba Hilton and the subsequent massive round-up of Sinai bedouins by Egypt's security apparatus, the situation of Sinai's bedouin population has gone from bad to worse. Already a marginalized group that has been even more left by the wayside by the government than Nile Valley Egyptians, Sinai bedouins have had to endure humiliating police abuse, detention without trial, and countless other abuses. Living in a poor area of the country under direct military rule, seeing the development of luxury resorts like Sharm al-Sheikh without reaping much of the profits they generate, some have even turned to remember the days of Israeli occupation of Sinai as a golden age. What worse indictment of the Mubarak era, for a president whose great claim is that he was the man who recovered Sinai, that a year or so ago young bedouins staged a symbolic march to the Israeli border? Now, as Egypt collaborates with Israel and the US to close down the smuggling tunnels to Gaza (one of the main sources of income in Eastern Sinai), they turn against the state. The signs have been coming for a while: is any of this a surprise?

Also see:

Three Bedouins Killed In Police Clashes
Armed Clashes Between Security And Tarabeen Tribe In Sinai Detain 25 Officers And Soldiers For Hours

For background and root causes see the International Crisis Group report Egypt's Sinai Question.