TIMEP Condemns Violent Attacks against Egypt’s Military Installations
Urges Governments to Protect Rights and Safety of Civilians
WASHINGTON, D.C. – TIMEP condemns the attacks that took place on Friday, October 24, against Egyptian military forces in North Sinai, and extends its deepest condolences to those affected by this violence. Militants killed 28 soldiers and injured another two dozen in an attack at a North Sinai checkpoint, which was followed hours later by a second attack at a separate North Sinai checkpoint that resulted in the deaths of three more Egyptian security force members. This marks one of the largest attacks on Egyptian security forces in years.
In response to the attacks, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared a three-month state of emergency and curfew in parts of Sinai. He also issued a decree, in effect for the next two years, that places all “state infrastructure” under military protection and allows civilians suspected of attacking such facilities to be tried by military courts. Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab has since said that universities are considered state infrastructure under the law, thus making it possible for students accused of damaging such property to be tried by military courts. By placing civilian infrastructure under military control, this decree has the effect of expanding the reach of Article 204 of Egypt’s constitution, which explicitly prohibits military trials of civilians “except for crimes that constitute a direct assault against military facilities or camps….”
Although no group has claimed responsibility for Friday’s violence, attacks by militants in Egypt have generally been on the increase since the overthrow of former President Muhammad Morsi last year. Despite the government’s proclaimed success in addressing security threats, attacks in Egypt still continue to occur frequently. Indeed, the government’s heavy-handed counter-terrorism tactics—such as mass arrests, curfews, communications blackouts, and Apache helicopter attacks—appear to have an undermining effect on its ability to combat the security threat, particularly in Sinai.
TIMEP strongly urges the government of Egypt to ensure that, in implementing the state of emergency and public infrastructure decree, it adheres to its constitutional and international legal obligations. Additionally, as Egypt attempts to respond to the terror threat in Sinai, TIMEP urges it to increase transparency about its counter-terrorism efforts and the nature of the threat that it aims to address. The government must carefully distinguish between civilians and combatants and avoid unnecessarily broad campaigns that damage civilian homes and livelihoods and breed hatred toward the government. Finally, the government should engage with the local population to re-establish intelligence networks, while at the same time protecting the population from groups that specifically target those who cooperate with the government.
For a comprehensive view and analysis of Egypt’s security threats and counter-terror efforts from 2010 to present, please see TIMEP’s Egypt Security Watch project.
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The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of democratic transitions in the Middle East through analysis, advocacy, and action.