The coming to power of Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, as president displeased certain influential actors and circles, both domestic and abroad.
Undoubtedly, Israel is one of the powers that do not want a Muslim Brotherhood administration. Israeli authorities have made numerous statements in the past suggesting that the Muslim Brotherhood is undesirable and poses a threat to Israel and its interests.
Israel had addressed the potential threat from Egypt by maintaining good ties with the Mubarak regime, which was under the protection of the US, but is aware that it will not enjoy this advantage in the new era.
Israel will no longer be able to manipulate Egyptian policy on Gaza, which remains isolated from the world. Secondly, Israel is also aware that the Camp David Accords, the greatest assurance of its security, are no longer sustainable. It is probable that a provision in the accords that states Egypt is not authorized to militarize the Sinai Peninsula will be abrogated by a democratically elected leader, if not by Mursi.
The actors uncomfortable with the democratic system and having Mursi in the domestic arena include deep state circles, which also could be seen as a main factor in the poor record of human rights and democratization in Turkey, which remained a third world country due to poor democracy until recent years. The deep state includes the military, state intelligence, the bureaucracy and businessmen.
The greatest tools Israel as well as Egypt’s deep state can rely on against Mursi are the Sinai Peninsula and the Bedouin. The sphere of influence and action of the Egyptian security forces on the Sinai Peninsula is fairly restricted. Under the Camp David Accords, Egypt may only have a limited quantity of security units and military equipment in the region.
The Bedouin and their demands for socio-economic rights have been ignored for a long time. Thousands of Bedouin still do not have citizenship status. These people, most of who were forced to settle in certain areas and were denied the acquisition of land, were treated as suspect by the Mubarak regime.
The current state of affairs on the Sinai Peninsula and as regards the Bedouin presents a great tool for domestic and international actors to use against the Mursi administration.
Mursi’s image will be further undermined if similar attacks occur in the region. This would also prevent him from taking action and steps vis-à-vis the deep state and Israel.
Mursi first needs to realize this danger and win the hearts of the Bedouin. To this end, he needs to introduce reforms to prove the states see the people in this region as equals and as proper citizens of the country.
The region is host to world-renowned tourist destinations; however, the Bedouin have not been able to benefit from advantages associated tourism.
The only thing they have been able to do is become involved in illegitimate activities because they are not treated as equals and are deprived of opportunities for education. Today, the Sinai Peninsula is a center for many illegal activities, including drug and arms dealing and human trafficking. This makes the Bedouin the best candidate for domestic and international forces eager to undermine Mursi’s image.
Unless these problems on the Sinai Peninsula are resolved, every step Mursi takes towards democratization will be challenged by similar attacks.
Turkey’s past has grave examples of this. Every initiative Turkey has taken towards democratization and economic development has been challenged by similar incidents, including political assassinations and protests. Bombs have exploded in the streets and leading figures in society have been assassinated.
The ongoing Ergenekon investigation proves that Turkey’s bold initiatives in recent decades have been aborted by provocative attacks and incidents. It is also obvious who have organized and manipulated the process.
Mursi and the democratic institutions of Egypt should consider Turkey’s experience and take the proper measures in their country. Otherwise, Egypt, like Turkey, will have to deal with bloodshed and waste time.