It has been almost four years since the re-emergence of terrorism in Egypt, a period during which we have been applying a clear policy aimed at completely eradicating terrorism. However, this policy has resulted in higher incidences of violence and terrorism, with no apparent indication that we are able to eliminate terrorism, or at least to reduce terrorist activity. Meanwhile, the Egyptian state completely refuses to consider or assess other policies for combating terrorism that could serve us better. President Al Sisi wants the entire world to support the anti-terrorist policy adopted by Egypt although there is no proof of its success on the internal front.
Aside from securing their borders, western countries don’t have a clue as to how to best fight terrorism within their states. It will therefore be difficult for them to become engaged in supporting other countries, when they are struggling with their own internal anti-terrorism policies. Deep down, the West believes that terrorism is the Islamic World’s problem, which it has, unfortunately, been dragged into; therefore, it is doing its utmost to “run and hide” from this crisis. Western nations, who are completely materialistically driven, won’t move an inch to support Egypt unless they can see that they stand to gain something from this effort.
The Egyptian state’s dilemma in its fight against terrorism is that it perceives terrorism as a clear and present danger that must be eliminated at once. Personally, I agree; however, since (due to many internal political reasons) this policy is not working, the state needs to consider the second-best option, which may be to concentrate on containing the terrorism crisis until the state is in a better position to tackle it. Additionally, terrorism in Egypt is politically triggered; separating the terrorism factor from the overall lack of political reform only serves to incite the terrorists further.
The Egyptian state has done its utmost to prevent terrorism in Egypt from reaching a level where the only remaining course of action is to dry up international support for terrorism. The state believes that terrorism is structured like a conduit and that depleting the resources (in terms of terrorists and financing) that flow into the conduit will wipe out all terrorist activity. In fact, terrorism is a network of highly misguided terrorists that motivate one another using their own erroneous beliefs. The draining of perceived terrorist conduits that Egypt would like to do will result in building new conduits and recruiting new terrorists.
Most likely, a few countries and organizations do support terrorism in Egypt. However, as along as terrorism is happening in our land, the battle is our responsibility. Apart from the United States, most western nations usually have a conservative approach to international policy. Condemning terrorist action is the maximum effort that can be expected of them. Additionally, these nations will not help Egypt unless they see that Egypt is making true progress in addressing its political challenges – they might step in then.
The Egyptian state has been using all the means and tools that it is familiar and comfortable with to fight terrorism. This has ended up increasing and expanding terrorist activity in Egypt, instead of restricting and curbing it. Consequently, an invitation to other countries to support Egypt using the same tactics and tools that have proven ineffective in their country of origin (Egypt) will certainly not be valued by these nations. Furthermore, Egypt has not offered sufficient evidence to persuade many western nations that it is waging a successful battle against terrorism.
Terrorism in Egypt is an obvious crisis and tackling it requires a team of qualified politicians. Leaving the issue completely to the security apparatus and placing our hopes in external assistance may undermine our internal efforts to fight the motives behind terrorism. Terrorism is a substantial part of the political dilemma that we have been living with since the 25 January 2011 revolution; isolating it and dealing with it as a separate issue won’t help. We need to think of a solution that addresses our political challenges as a whole.