Minister of Defence General Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi told tribal leaders in Sinai Monday that the names of those who carried out the deadly Rafah border attacks that resulted in 16 dead soldiers and seven injured would be revealed in days.
El-Sisi, who was meeting with tribal leaders and elders as well as political figures and security officials, added that the current military campaign in Sinai aims to rid the region of criminal elements and armed terrorists.
“Achieving security and stability is a shared responsibility between security forces, citizens, tribal leaders and political forces,” said El-Sisi. He urged everyone to cooperate with security forces in tracking and reporting outlaws.
El-Sisi pledged EGP 1 billion from the military’s budget for the development of Sinai. He said that development and not weapons would solve the security situation in the region.
He also addressed the problem of a highly weaponised Sinai, urging the tribes to let go of their guns and even promising that the military would buy them.
In turn, tribal elders asked El-Sisi that residents of Sinai be allowed to attend the various Egyptian military colleges and serve as officers in the armed forces so that they would be able to help the authorities protect Sinai and the Egyptian borders.
Sinai Bedouins were traditionally barred from joining the military or police forces under the reign of former president Hosni Mubarak.
The tribal elders also asked for a special Ministry of Sinai to be formed temporarily in lieu of the current Sinai Development Authority, citing the example of the Ministry of the High Dam formed by former president Gamal Abdel Nasser when the dam was being built.
The meeting took place after El-Sisi visited the troops participating in “Operation Eagle,” which was launched to counter the increasing militant presence in Sinai, especially after the recent attacks.
Unidentified gunmen, which the military claims are Jihadist Salafists, took over an armoured personnel carrier and shot 16 soldiers dead on the Egyptian – Israeli border, injuring a further seven and crossing into Israel before the Israeli military gunned them down.
El-Sisi was promoted from Director of Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance to Commander-in-Chief and Minister of Defence after President Mohamed Morsy sent his predecessor, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, to retirement.
He was accompanied on his trip by several members of the reshuffled top brass in the military, including the new Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Sedki Sobhi, new Commander of the Air Force, Vice Marshal Youness El-Sayed Hamed and Commander of the Second Field Army, Major General Ahmed Wasfy.