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Sunday, 24 September 2017

'Egypt is on brink of ridding Sinai of terrorism,' army general tells MPs

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 14 Mar 2017
Sinai
Egyptian army tanks deployed in Sinai (Photo:Ahram)
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Major General Mamdouh Shahin, the Egyptian defence minister's deputy for legislative and constitutional affairs, told MPs on Tuesday that the army is on the brink of eliminating terrorism in North Sinai.

In a meeting held by parliament's agriculture committee and attended by governor of Ismailia Yassin Taher, Shahin said that "the elimination of terrorism in North Sinai, which is very near, will pave the way for revoking the emergency measures that have been in effect there since 2013."

The army has been battling an intensified Islamist insurgency in North Sinai since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Shahin told MPs that the government and the army are keen on seeing Sinai become an attractive environment for investment.

"Sinai will see a lot of progress very soon in terms of economic development after all terrorist elements in this integral part of Egypt are obliterated," said Shahin.

Shahin said that "emergency measures, including long curfew hours, were imposed in Sinai in order to safeguard its citizens against terrorism and help prevent it from infiltrating all of Egypt."

However, Shahin said "the army has always been of the mind that emergency measures in Sinai are to be implemented on a very limited scale so that the citizens of Sinai can move easily and live a normal life."

MPs complained that most of the roads leading to North Sinai are in bad condition and that it is very difficult for farmers there to use fertilisers necessary to grow their crops.

Hesham El-Shini, head of parliament's agriculture committee, said that the poor road conditions have led to hundreds of citizens losing their lives in car accidents.

"It is hard for the citizens of North Sinai to suffer from both terrorism and bad roads," said El-Shini.

El-Shini said the committee will send Minister of Defence Sedki Sobhi a memorandum requesting that the army's engineering authority take charge of renovating roads leading to Sinai.

MP Fathi Qandeel complained that farmers in both Sinai and Ismailia have suffered much in recent years because they have not been allowed to use "nitrate and urea fertilizers, which are necessary to grow their crops.

In response, Shahin said the army decided three years ago that "nitrate and urea fertilisers be banned from use in Sinai and Ismailia after it had found that they were used in manufacturing explosives."

Ismailia governor Yassin Taher said "it is highly dangerous that terrorists get the material they need to manufacture explosives and use them near the Suez Canal area – which is highly strategic to the Egyptian and the world economy."

Taher said that "farmers in Sinai and the Suez Canal area can use other kinds of fertilisers for the time being and terrorism is completely obliterated."

Taher proposed that the Ministry of Agriculture set up a fertiliser production factory in Ismailia to help provide farmers in Sinai with the quantities they need and after making sure that they will not be used in any terrorist activities.

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