Sinai tribesmen organise rally in support of armed forces: army spokesperson

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The army’s spokesperson, Tamer El-Refai, said that tribesmen attending a popular conference in the area of Abu Zenema in South Sinai declared their “major support” for the Egyptian Army against its fight against terrorism.

The spokesperson said in a statement published on Friday that the conference was attended by representatives and leaders from the tribes of Al-Qarashra, Al-Tarabin, Mazneh, Al-Hwaytat, Al-Ulaekat, Al-Ahwaetat, Bani Wasel, Awlad Said, Al-Sawalha, Al-Hamadah, and Al-Gabalayah.

The statement, however, did not specify when the conference took place.

It added that the military leadership declared its appreciation for the efforts of tribes and local Sinai citizens in the current fight against militancy, considering locals “the first line of defence.” Officials also expressed that the army is serious in offering locals facilities, services, and work to ease pressures that they meet in villages and valleys, both in Central and South Sinai, in order to achieve sustainable development in the peninsula.

The political and social influence of the army in the Sinai has started to become stronger in the wake of recent violence in Sinai and the ensuing drawback of civilian authority. For example, on Friday the Egyptian Army announced it inaugurated a secondary school in the area of Ras Sedr in South Sinai, in coordination with the Ministry of Education. The army also said in a statement that it will inaugurate a workshop to teach girls netting and sewing.

During Friday’s conference, the army said that “the tribesmen thanked the military leadership and President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for their support to the people of Sinai.” The tribesmen vowed to continue their support for the army.

Head of the Al-Garashrara tribe, Soliman Al-Garashrara, said that the conference aimed “to strengthen the relationship between the army and the tribes,” and “to send a message to investors that Sinai is safe.”

On the other hand, a leading member from a prominent tribe told Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity that the conference was originally held as a customary reconciliation session between two rivalling tribes—Al-Garashrara and Al-Fawakhrea, both of which were not mentioned in the army’s statement.

The source added that the dispute started when a member of Al-Garashrara kidnapped one from Al-Fawakhrea. “Several negotiations between the two sides resulted in the aggressor paying the victims a fine of EGP 4 million, however the victim declined,” the source said, adding that the victim decided to put the dispute to rest without receiving compensation.

After that, the source added, a conference was announced to publically declare that the two sides have settled the issue peacefully.

Often rival families and tribes execute acts of vendetta and theft to achieve justice. In many cases, police forces in Upper Egypt gather disputing families to reconcile in so called customary reconciliation sessions. In areas near the Eastern and Western boarders, where the influence of the military intelligence and army is greater than the civilian authorities, high ranking officers often lead these sessions.

In a different context, police forces announced that a police conscript was shot and wounded by unknown assailants in Rafah. Also, local media reported that during a security campaign, around 22 suspects were arrested. They will be interrogated by the prosecution.

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