- Published on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 07:05
This article, written by Harriet Sherwood, appeared on The Guardian on August 08,2012
The Sinai has long been an area beyond the writ of Cairo. The vast desert peninsula is inhabited largely by Bedouin tribes, who for decades have been marginalised, neglected and impoverished.
But in the 18 months since the Egyptian revolution forced out the former president Hosni Mubarak, the Sinai has become more chaotic and violent. And Israel has become increasingly alarmed by deteriorating security across its southern border.
The peninsula is a wild frontier, a "new hotspot with an expanding terrorist infrastructure", according to a report, Sinai: A New Front, by Israeli analyst Ehud Yaari for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, released earlier this year. "Measures are needed to prevent the total collapse of security in and around the peninsula [and] avoid the rise of an armed runaway Bedouin statelet."
Israel has urged the Egyptian government to take firm action against Bedouin militants and smugglers, and has enlisted the support of the US in its efforts. During a visit to Cairo last month, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, warned that Sinai could become an "operational base" for jihadists if security was not stepped up.
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