Cablegate: North Sinai Demonstrations Reflect Anger at Lack


DE RUEHEG #0037 0051547
P 051547Z JAN 10

S E C R E T CAIRO 000037



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/05/2020

REF: A. 09 CAIRO 2249 B. 09 CAIRO 1458 C. 09 CAIRO 1889 Classified By: Minister Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs Donald A. Blome for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1.(S/NF) Demonstrations in El Arish on January 2-3 protesting the government's inability to provide security for the people drew 5-7,000 people. The protests were sparked by outrage at the carjacking and killing of a man from an influential Bedouin family. Demonstrators threw stones and broke the windows of government buildings. Our contacts in the Egyptian and Bedouin communities in El Arish said the level of public anger is "unprecedented." Sameh Atta (protect), Advisor to the SYG of the Fawakhria Bedouin Association told us this was the third attack against prominent families in El Arish in a week. The driver of a car was shot in the arm during another carjacking and a prominent fisherman was separately attacked and robbed of 12,000 Egyptian pounds (USD 2,200). Our North Sinai Bedouin contacts expect the violence to increase in the short-term because the family of the murdered man did not hold a funeral giving it time "to exact revenge on the perpetrators."

2.(S/NF) Security in El Arish, the capital of the North Sinai Governorate has declined since July 2009 as nomadic Bedouin from central Sinai have moved into the area (reftels A-B). Central Sinai Bedouin are suffering from drought and an on-going government crackdown on smuggling. Our contacts told us that violent crime has become a "daily occurrence" in El Arish, with firearms widely possessed, even among young boys. XXXXXXXXXXXX said Egyptian security services are afraid to intervene and are not held accountable for their inaction. Governor Shousha was replaced on January 4 as Governor of North Sinai by MOD insider and former Director of Military Intelligence Major General Murad Mowafy. Shousha was reassigned to be Governor of South Sinai.

3.(S/NF) Despite the change in personnel, Fawakhria Bedouin council advisor Atta doubts Egypt's security forces will be able to control the violence and said law-abiding El Arish residents are buying arms to protect themselves. MP Abdel Hamid Selmy, a member of the Fawakhria Bedouin Council, is engaging with the various Bedouin tribes to get them to sign treaties with one another in hopes of controlling the cycle of violence that has led to instability in the area.

4.(S/NF) Comment: Our contacts in central Sinai complained about heavy-handed tactics from Shousha (reftels A and C), but it is unclear that his transfer and replacement by DMI chief Mowafy, portends a change in approach. Mowafy is known to post as a pragmatic and effective interlocutor. End Comment. Tueller

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