Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sisi's dilemma

"Such a move is particularly problematic in the Egyptian case. Since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952, successive governments have made Egyptian control of its national territory a central part of the country’s story and mission. This emphasis on  sovereignty over national territory was one of then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s justifications for nationalizing the Suez Canal Co. in July 1956. Then, after the devastating June 1967 war, while Egyptians reeled under the impact of the defeat, Nasser’s driving policy message was to “erase the remnants of the aggression,” meaning restoring Egyptian sovereignty over the Sinai, which Israel occupied as a result of the war. In the same vein, Anwar Sadat sold his controversial peace treaty with Israel in 1979 on the grounds that it would result in Israeli withdrawal from Egyptian territory, a promise that was finally completed on April 25, 1982.*
As a result, Sissi — who has repeatedly likened himself to Nasser — cannot both promote a nationalism that has deep roots in the identity cultivated over decades among Egyptians through a range of educational, governmental and media sources and violate one of the most basic pillars of that same patriotic national identity with impunity. Some of the slogans in the numerous protests that have taken place since the announcement of this agreement make clear these bases of the popular rejection of the agreement: “Land is honor” (al-ard ‘ard) and a variation on the January 2011 classic “Bread, freedom, social justice” to (the equally rhyming in Arabic) “Bread, freedom, these islands are Egyptian.”"
*It should be noted that Egypt never regained Sinai from Israel. Israel continues to exercise full sovereignty over Sinai and Egyptian regime has to request permission from Israel to even move soldiers around.  It is up to Israel to decide which kind of weapons and forces to deploy in Sinai.