Bombing in Egypt’s Sinai kills 11 soldiers

A blast hit a convoy of buses carrying off-duty soldiers Wednesday in the city of Arish in Egypt’s northern Sinai peninsula, killing 11 people and injuring an estimated 35 others. Reports on the source of the explosion vary, with some citing a suicide car bombing and others a remote-detonated roadside explosive. No group has claimed ...

-/AFP/Getty Images
-/AFP/Getty Images
-/AFP/Getty Images

A blast hit a convoy of buses carrying off-duty soldiers Wednesday in the city of Arish in Egypt's northern Sinai peninsula, killing 11 people and injuring an estimated 35 others. Reports on the source of the explosion vary, with some citing a suicide car bombing and others a remote-detonated roadside explosive. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, however assaults targeting security forces in the region have increased since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July. Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said the government was evaluating "all the alternatives to deal with the ongoing terrorist incidents" and Egypt's military spokesman stated the army would continue to fight "black terrorism."

Syria

Facing limited options for the disposal of Syria's over 1,000 tons of chemical weapons and precursors, the United States and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are considering destroying them at sea. According to senior U.S. officials, the chemical components could be placed on a barge where they would be dissolved or incinerated. OPCW spokesman Christian Chartier said it is one of several possible solutions under consideration. The option has been given more thought since Albania turned down a U.S. request on Friday to destroy the materials on its territory. Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has maintained that he will not resign in part of negotiations planned for Geneva. According to the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, Assad said, "They want us to relinquish Syria to [opposition Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad] Jarba in Geneva II, and thus there is no need to go to Geneva if this is the general idea." Suicide bombers attacked the mountainous Qalamoun region north of Damascus where rebel fighters are working to counter a government offensive. Two suicide car bombings hit Syrian security forces in the outskirts of Nabak. Two other suicide car bombs exploded outside a hospital in Deir Attiyeh. There has been no official report on casualties.

A blast hit a convoy of buses carrying off-duty soldiers Wednesday in the city of Arish in Egypt’s northern Sinai peninsula, killing 11 people and injuring an estimated 35 others. Reports on the source of the explosion vary, with some citing a suicide car bombing and others a remote-detonated roadside explosive. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, however assaults targeting security forces in the region have increased since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July. Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said the government was evaluating "all the alternatives to deal with the ongoing terrorist incidents" and Egypt’s military spokesman stated the army would continue to fight "black terrorism."

Syria

Facing limited options for the disposal of Syria’s over 1,000 tons of chemical weapons and precursors, the United States and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are considering destroying them at sea. According to senior U.S. officials, the chemical components could be placed on a barge where they would be dissolved or incinerated. OPCW spokesman Christian Chartier said it is one of several possible solutions under consideration. The option has been given more thought since Albania turned down a U.S. request on Friday to destroy the materials on its territory. Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has maintained that he will not resign in part of negotiations planned for Geneva. According to the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, Assad said, "They want us to relinquish Syria to [opposition Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad] Jarba in Geneva II, and thus there is no need to go to Geneva if this is the general idea." Suicide bombers attacked the mountainous Qalamoun region north of Damascus where rebel fighters are working to counter a government offensive. Two suicide car bombings hit Syrian security forces in the outskirts of Nabak. Two other suicide car bombs exploded outside a hospital in Deir Attiyeh. There has been no official report on casualties.

Headlines

  • A series of seemingly coordinated bombings at bakeries and markets across the Iraqi capital of Baghdad in primarily Shiite neighborhoods killed an estimated 37 people and injured over 80 others Wednesday.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama made an appeal to Senators to delay new sanctions on Iran ahead of nuclear talks set to resume Wednesday between world powers and Iran.
  • Bahrain’s main opposition group, al-Wefaq, said its leaders are being systematically targeted, that charges against them are politically motivated, and that the government is failing to implement promised reforms.
  • A Human Rights Watch report has found the Iranian government is failing to meet legal obligations for Afghan refugees, splitting up families, and committing abuses. 

Arguments and Analysis

Happy birthday, general‘ (Lina Attalah, Mada Masr)

"Sisi’s popularity, much like anything else, cannot be de-contextualized from a more specific framework. His star only rose the moment he stood against President Mohamed Morsi by ousting him from power in July. Sisi’s move capitalized on growing disenchantment with Brotherhood rule, which was often described as a faction turning the state into a clan. Many Egyptians thought to redeem this state by raising signs claiming it back and by protesting against the Brotherhood, while the military, with Sisi at the front line, could not define itself at any other time in any better way: as the saviors of the state and its ultimate pillar.

Sisi’s popularity is also gripped by a sentiment not far from frenzy, a supernatural frenzy, much like the concerted hatred toward the Muslim Brotherhood and fear of their terrorism. These are perhaps the extravagances of revolution, alongside the impatience revolution inevitably produces as an intense event full of promises. Three years later, the intensity of the event is translating into an intensity of emotions, in both their glorifying and demonizing extremities.

On the ground, the current presence of the military since it chose to oust Morsi has meant the voiding of the political space. In his proclaimed war against what remains of the Brotherhood and the perceived threat of their retaliatory ‘terrorism,’ Sisi has actively declared that no voice shall go beyond this battle. In other words, a trading of freedom for security, reminiscent of all Egypt’s postcolonial regimes, is being played back. Accordingly, there is no space for politics."

Syria’s sectarian ripples across the Gulf‘ (Frederic Wehrey, United States Institute of Peace)

"Contrary to some assumptions, Gulf governments did not manufacture sectarianism from thin air, nor does it arise solely from the contagion of regional crises or the clashing foreign policies of the region’s sectarian rivals, Iran and Saudi Arabia. It is also not a primordial, immutable feature of Gulf political and social life. Like any identity, sectarian affiliation has coexisted alongside a number of other frequently competing attributes — class versus class, tribal versus nontribal, indigenous versus immigrant, settled versus nomadic, generation versus generation, and so on. At various points in history, however, sectarian identity has assumed greater prominence. Elites have instrumentalized it and ordinary citizens have defined themselves by it to the exclusion of other affinities.

In this regard, sectarianism should be regarded as a symptom of longstanding deficits in Gulf governance and the unequal distribution of political and economic capital. Specifically, the dearth of inclusive, participatory institutions; discrimination in key sectors like education, clerical establishments, and the security services; the abse
nce of civil society; and uneven economic development are the real culprits of sectarianism. Certainly, media — and in particular, social media — has played a significant role in inflaming and entrenching Sunni-Shia passions, offering the most polarizing voices a highly visible platform to peddle a sectarian narrative. But Gulf rulers who wish to de-escalate these passions would do well to look beyond media censorship to genuine, lasting reforms in the political and economic realm."

–Mary Casey & Joshua Haber

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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