Tribal elders in the Sinai proposed the formation of a security apparatus composed exclusively of tribesmen under the supervision of the [Egyptian] armed forces in order to control lawless elements in northern, central and southern Sinai. The Coalition of Arab Tribes demanded a representative in the Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution, as well as in the presidential team that aids President Mohammad Morsi.
Sheikh Rashid al-Sabi, head of the [association] of Arab Egyptian Tribes, said it was necessary for the tribes to have a representative in the Constituent Assembly. He told Al-Masry Al-Youm: “The Arabs and members of tribes are suffering from deliberate marginalization in the region. The representation of tribes in the Constituent Assembly was overlooked, and President Mohammed Morsi did not choose any adviser from the tribes.”
He added: “The tribes of Sinai are not the only ones suffering from marginalization, but [so are] all the Arab tribes scattered in the provinces.”
Sabi added that stability in the “hot areas” can be achieved by communicating with the tribes and addressing their problems. He noted that tribal elders are capable of containing any crisis, since every chieftain has full influence over his tribe and can obligate its members to collaborate with security forces.
For his part, Sheikh Salem Bin-Jirma said that the security situation in the Sinai has stabilized slightly, stressing the need to start addressing the problems of the people in the region.
He said that the tribes had agreed on specific demands, which they will raise with President Morsi soon.
These demands include the establishment of a public university with discounted acceptance rates due to the decline of the educational level of students in northern Sinai and “so our children will have access to higher education.”
The tribes will also call for the establishment of an independent security apparatus based in the city of El-Arish — to be supervised by the Egyptian army and not the Ministry of Interior — that would “guarantee that tribes would respect the security forces due to the presence of their children within it.” They also called for the formation of security units consisting of residents of northern, southern and central Sinai, training them on “legal” ways to deal with lawless elements.
Sheikh Saleh Joumaa of the al-Ajnah tribe said that Arab tribes are not only present in Sinai, noting that they were also widespread across the border provinces. He said that all Arab tribes in Egypt suffer from the same problems, mainly concerning the ownership of land and neglect of agriculture and education.
In a related context, Sheikh Abd-al-Majid Othman, representative of the Al-Ababida and Al-Bashariya tribes, said that an application has already been submitted to the Presidential Ombudsman demanding the legalization of gold mining in the rich area of Wadi Allaqi, while giving priority to the people of southern Sinai.
Othman said that the armed forces had prevented tribal members from joining the Border Guard, which he saw as an act of unacceptable discrimination.
The “Sinai Rebels” movement criticized the exclusion of a number of Sinai residents from the Military Academy. The movement said that 13 persons were excluded “without reasons being given” — according to a statement released by the movement — and saw it as a continuation of their marginalization.