Thursday, August 9, 2012

Egyptian Security Forces conduct Sinai sweep

The elevator speeds up to the top floor where the conference room is located. The doors open and there is another security checkpoint, the final one. After the attack this ensured that only senior personnel and security will be present. It appears that the agency put HQ on total lock-down with maximum security. Reinforcements arrived in Singapore rather fast as I notice several strike teams who were deployed here. At least we have a sense of security.

I pass through the final checkpoint and make my way to the conference room. As I walk by the vault I notice the two different assault teams guarding the corridor leading to the vault. I am pleased to see that. One of my colleagues comes around the corner and joins me on our way to the conference room. The meeting is scheduled to start in seven minutes. A junior aid approaches as in order to find out what we would like to eat during the conference which means we will be here for a while.

The meeting with my potential new contractor is still on my mind. I liked the way our initial meeting went and there is a huge amount of potential. The project had something which intrigued me and flamed up an inner interest to work on yet another top secret government contract. I am ripped out of my thoughts as my colleague engages into quick small talk about the Egyptian security sweep in the Sinai region in order to clear it from militants.

President Mursi fired the regional governor of Sinai as well as his intelligence chief and deployed ground forces as well as helicopter gunships to the region after militants attacked a border post on August 5th which killed 16 soldiers. President Mursi order the military as well as police forces to take complete control of Sinai. Sinai offers a great platform for radicals as well as terrorists to prosper as the sovereign state lacks control and a permanent heavy military presence.

The situation in Sinai has spiraled out of control after former Egyptian President Mubarak was ousted last year and President Mursi was allowed to run the show. Mursi pledged to maintain the peasce agreement between Egypt and Israel, but at the same time maintains a healthy relationship with the terrorist group Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip.

On August 7th unidentified militants attacked a checkpoint in al-Arish. Helicopter gunships pursued militants which attacked the helicopters using heavy machine guns as well as artillery. Tanks supported ground forces and the sweep allegedly left 20 militants dead and three security forces injured. Egyptian security forces have intercepted numerous shipments of heavy weapons smuggled in from Libya which include surface-to-air missiles.

Israel killed six militants on August 5th which crossed the border. Hamas condemned the attack on the border post in support of President Mursi who seems to shown a greater interest in relations with Hamas then with Israel. Sinai, most popular for its Red Sea resorts and a very popular tourist destination has been declared a state of emergency by its governor who order buses to travel in groups under armed escorts while he alos order the closure of the route which connect northern and southern Sinai.

President Mursi struggles to handle the situation as he was handed leadership by the Egyptian Army in order to restore order. Egypt has suffered for the last 18 months amid unrest and a deterioration of the security as well as economic situation. He also needs to sooth fear of secularist parties that his Muslim Brotherhood party will not follow policies at the expense of the country.

Mursi's move to focus more on the relationship with Hamas rather than Israel will harm him in the long-run. The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel limits the amount of troops Egypt is allowed to maintain in Sinai. Mursi eased restrictions on Gazans as he met with top Hamas officials and allows more cross-border transactions. A positive development is the the security sweep also closed tunnels used to smuggle weapons and fuel as well as food and medication. The military said that the attacks were supported from groups within the Gaza Strip and the closure of tunnels will cripple operations enacted by Hamas.

We approach the conference room, guarded by six security members. A small line of our colleagues as well as contractors is patiently waiting for the security procedures to be completed so they are allowed into the conference room. No devices are allowed inside and briefcases are stored in a secure safe which is guarded. We are not taking any chances during high level conferences such as this one, especially after te events which unfolded over the past eight hours.


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