Skip to main content

Was Egypt’s Coptic bus attack a smoke screen?

“Targeting the Coptic Christians in Egypt is not something new, as a matter of fact it has lately morphed into some kind of a systematic pattern”

Bodies lie in the desert after the bus attack on Coptic Christians near Minya in Egypt

Report by Dr. Ashraf Ezzat
For Veterans Today – Alexandria, Egypt
In less than six hours, Egyptian security apparatus has been able to investigate the deadly attack on a bus carrying Christians to a remote monastery in Upper Egypt, identify the perpetrators, and swiftly act in retaliation by striking targets, not inside Egypt, but in Libya. Well, that was a faster reaction than that which was conducted by those sluggish British policemen in Manchester. I think England should dump the American CIA guys (Who took responsibility for Manchester leaks) and instead focus on bolstering intelligence sharing with the (truly professional and relentless) Egyptian security authorities.
The Egyptian fighter jets carried out strikes on Friday directed at camps in Libya which Egyptian military authorities claim have been training (Islamist) militants who killed dozens of Coptic Christians earlier in the day. The latest estimate of the dead is 29 dead and 24 seriously wounded. The Coptic group was heading to the Saint Samuel Monastery, outside Minya city, about 220km south of Cairo, when the masked attackers, who came in three pickup trucks, opened fire on them before fleeing the scene.
Targeting the Coptic Christians in Egypt is not something new, as a matter of fact it has lately morphed into some kind of a systematic pattern (well-funded and trained – and politically manipulated, I might add)
Does anyone still remember the horrific church bombing in Alexandria which killed 21 Coptic Christians, few months before the January revolution back in 2011? I still do, because I was two hundred meters away from the Church, 15 minutes before the blast.
In the initial investigations that were not completed, the Security Apparatus of Mubarak was found somehow implicated in orchestrating the bombing. It was too obvious who would benefit from that attack. The bombing would create a strong public feeling of uncertainty and fear, a smoke screen to allow Mubarak (under the extended emergency law) to win another term in office. It is worth mentioning here that 2018 is the year of the upcoming Presidential Elections in Egypt (under yet another extended emergency law)
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said he had ordered strikes against what he called terrorist camps, declaring in a televised address that states that sponsored terrorism would be punished.
“Egypt will never hesitate to strike terror camps anywhere … if it plans attacking Egypt whether inside or outside the country,” Sisi said.
Trump and El-Sisi’s meeting in Washington last April
Meanwhile, Egyptian military sources reported on Friday that Egyptian air force planes carried out six strikes directed at militant (terrorist) camps near Derna in Libya. The city of Derna is in Eastern Libya, between Benghazi and the Western Egyptian borders with Libya.
That makes Derna not only a strategic location for Egypt but also for general, Khalifa Haftar, a Libyan military officer and the head of the Libyan National Army in East Libya which is opposed to the UN-backed Tripoli government.
Haftar is supported by the military in Egypt, United Arab Emirates’ government and some sources say the American CIA.
After the latest (positive) meeting of President Trump with President Sisi in Wshington, one wouldn’t expect the US to issue a condemnation of the Egyptian strikes in Libya.
It seems that both presidents had a mutual understanding on fighting terrorism in the Middle East, where Egypt’s military and air force is expected to play a major role on the ground (especially in Libya and Sudan).
East Libyan forces loyal to General, Khalifa Haftar said they participated in the Egyptian air strikes, which had targeted rebel forces linked to the so called Islamic State (IS) at a number of sites and would be followed by a ground operation.
Sources in Derna heard four powerful explosions and informed some online news media that the strikes had targeted camps used by fighters belonging to the Majlis al-Shura militant group.
But Majlis al-Shura spokesman Mohamed al-Mansouri said in a video posted online that the Egyptian air strikes did not hit any of the group’s camps, but instead hit civilian areas. In the past two years, the Egyptian air force has carried out several strikes on Derna, notably in February 2015 and March 2016, which targeted the same militias of Majlis al-Shura.
Libyan General, Khalifa Haftar
Although Mansouri also denied any link between the Majlis al-Shura group and the IS-suspected attack earlier on Friday, in a contradictory move, the Islamic State group on Saturday claimed responsibility for the attack.
Clothes and shoes of Coptic Christians could be seen scattered in and around the bus, while the bodies of some of the dead civilian victims lay in the desert sand nearby, covered with black sheets.
Eyewitnesses said three small buses were attacked. First to be hit was a bus taking children to the monastery as part of a church-organized trip, and the other two buses that followed were taking the families.
The gunmen boarded the vehicles and shot all the men and took all the women’s gold jewelry. Then the masked militants shot the women and children in the legs.
Security forces launched a hunt for the attackers, setting up dozens of checkpoints and patrols on the desert road.
Egyptian/Coptic Christians, whose church dates back nearly 2,000 years, make up a minority sect of about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 92 million.
They say they have long suffered from persecution, but in recent months the frequency of deadly attacks against the Coptic Christians has increased. About 70 have been killed since December in bombings claimed by Islamic State at churches in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta.
An Islamic State campaign of murders in North Sinai forced hundreds of Christians to flee the vast Northern Governorate (bordering Israel) in February and March.
In the aftermath of those subsequent attacks, many Christians feel insecure and constantly threatened. They say that the state either does not take their plight seriously enough or cannot protect them against militant Islamic attacks.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why States Still Use Barrel Bombs

Smoke ascends after a Syrian military helicopter allegedly dropped a barrel bomb over the city of Daraya on Jan. 31.(FADI DIRANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary
Barrel bombs are not especially effective weapons. They are often poorly constructed; they fail to detonate more often than other devices constructed for a similar purpose; and their lack of precision means they can have a disproportionate effect on civilian populations.

However, combatants continue to use barrel bombs in conflicts, including in recent and ongoing conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, and they are ideally suited to the requirements of resource-poor states.

Analysis


Barrel bombs are improvised devices that contain explosive filling and shrapnel packed into a container, often in a cylindrical shape such as a barrel. The devices continue to be dropped on towns all over Syria. Indeed, there have been several documented cases of their use in Iraq over the past months, and residents of the city of Mosul, which was recently …

Russia Looks East for New Oil Markets

Click to Enlarge


In the final years of the Soviet Union, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev began orienting his foreign policy toward Asia in response to a rising Japan. Putin has also piloted a much-touted pivot to Asia, coinciding with renewed U.S. interest in the area. A good expression of intent was Russia's hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2012 in Vladivostok, near Russia's borders with China and North Korea. Although its efforts in Asia have been limited by more direct interests in Russia's periphery and in Europe, Moscow recently has been able to look more to the east.

Part of this renewed interest involves finding new export markets for Russian hydrocarbons. Russia's economy relies on energy exports, particularly crude oil and natural gas exported via pipeline to the West. However, Western Europe is diversifying its energy sources as new supplies come online out of a desire to reduce its dependence on Russian energy supplies.

This has forced…

In Yemen, a Rebel Advance Could Topple the Regime

Shia loyal to the al-Houthi movement ride past Yemeni soldiers near Yaz, Yemen, in May. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The success of a rebel campaign in northern Yemen is threatening to destabilize the already weak and overwhelmed government in Sanaa. After capturing the city of Amran, a mere 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital, in early July, the rebels from the al-Houthi tribe are in their strongest position yet. The Yemeni government is developing plans to divide the country into six federal regions, and the rebels believe this is their chance to claim territory for the future bargaining.

The central government is nearly powerless to fend off the rebels; its forces are already stretched thin. Neighboring Saudi Arabia has intervened in Yemen before and still supports Sunni tribes in the north, but the risk of inciting a Shiite backlash or creating space for jihadists to move in could deter another intervention.

Analysis


Followers of Zaidi Islam, a branch of Shiism, rul…