Unrest erupted again in the Sinai after three policemen were killed on Saturday [Nov. 3] by unknown persons.
Egyptian Interior Minister Maj. Gen. Ahmed Gamal el-Din issued a decision in light of the incident dismissing the security chief of the North Sinai governorate, Gen. Ahmed Bakr, from his post.
Moreover, police forces organized protests denouncing the killing of their colleagues and Defense Minister Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi visited the army forces deployed there.
Tribal leaders verbally attacked President Mohammed Morsi, after both ministers had apologized for not attending a meeting organized by the governor of North Sinai, Maj. Gen. al-Sayyed Harhor.
Heated arguments broke out between Morsi’s supporters and opponents, the latter calling for demonstrations against him. The governor also criticized the two ministers and the prime minister, and expressed his solidarity with tribal leaders.
Sisi made a surprise visit to the Sinai yesterday morning [Nov. 4]. Army spokesman Col. Ahmed Ali said that the general met with military commanders and officers to discuss the situation in the region and to support the police in providing security, stressing that the armed forces will continue to fight to preserve the Sinai. He added that the general and the governor discussed the latest developments.
Ali noted that the visit aimed to send a message reassuring the people that the armed forces remain a protective shield guaranteeing Egypt’s security. He explained that Military Chief of Staff Gen. Sidki Sobhi Saleh also participated in the meeting with army commanders and officers.
Harhor said that he briefed the defense minister on all of the problems in the North Sinai, such as insecurity, the spread of terrorism, thuggery and a lack of clean drinking water.
The armed forces deployed a number of troops in the towns of Sheikh Zuweid and al-Arish to guard police stations and streets, and to control the security situation there, particularly after police forces withdrew and rallied in front of the Security Directorate, protesting the killing of their colleagues by extremists.
Ali pointed out that at the same time, Bedouins blocked a number of main roads and rallied in front of the capitol building, demanding that verdicts that had issued against a number of them in absentia — prior to the January revolution — be dropped.
Al-Arish police members protested in front of the security directorate building, denouncing the killing of their colleagues and protesting being constantly subjected to attacks by armed terrorist gangs.
Upon his arrival to the directorate yesterday [Nov. 4] at 9 am, the minister called on them to disclose their problems. Protesters — who chanted “leave” — met with the minister for several hours in one of the directorate’s halls and demanded that he remove Security Director Gen. Ahmed Bakr from his post.
The minister responded to their requests and issued an immediate resolution dismissing Bakr and appointing Gen. Sameeh Bashandy security chief of North Sinai.
Policemen and officers expressed their happiness at the decision. In the meanwhile, family members of a number of defendants in criminal cases rallied in front of the governorate building, demanding the release of their relatives and attempting to burn tires.
However, army forces that were assigned to protect the building prevented them from doing so and removed them from the area.
The governor called tribal leaders for a meeting in the capitol building, in the presence of the ministers of defense and interior. After waiting for hours, they were informed that the defense minister — along with the chief of staff — had returned to Cairo after meeting with the governor.
Then, the latter apologized on behalf of the interior minister for failing to attend the meeting. Tribal leaders exploded with anger and walked out of the hall.
They said, “If the Sinai were important to the government, the ministers and the chief of staff would not have left before the meeting,” and called for an open sit-in to express their anger with the ministers.
The governor requested that tribal leaders form a delegation to meet with the interior minister today [Nov. 5]. However, they refused and vented their anger at the governor, saying, “They need to come to us, we are not going to them.”
The governor announced his solidarity with them and added: “I will inform the political leadership of what took place.”
After leaving the hall, tribal leaders burned tires, blocked the road in front of the capitol building and called for mass protests against what has happened in the Sinai.