In mid-December, thousands of young people, from all over the globe, packed the beautiful city of Sharm Elshiekh, in Sinai, to participate in the third version of the World Youth Forum. On the margin of the international event, Egypt’s President El-Sisi held a private meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss several issues of mutual concern, including the Palestinian general elections, to be held in early 2020. This will be the first elections to be held, after almost fifteen years of bloody conflicts between Fatah Movement, which currently leads the Palestinian Authority from the West Bank, and the terrorist organization of Hamas, which leads the government from Gaza strip.
The results of the prospected Palestinian elections, with high probability of Hamas victory over legislative and presidential elections, shall not only define the future of Palestinian citizens, the scope of conflicts between Palestinian political factions, or the pursue of the peace process with Israel. It shall also affect the balance of power in the already-disturbed regional security of the Middle East, given Hamas’s sinful affair with the squad of terrorism sponsors in the region: Qatar, Turkey, and Iran.
In the core of all this, Egypt is trying to safeguard its national security against the probability of Hamas becoming the new leader of the Palestinian Authority. This will not only reshape the relationship between Egypt and Palestinians, but may also disturb the ongoing war on terror in Sinai, and abate Egypt’s attempts to appropriately manage diplomatic conflicts with Turkey and Qatar. That, perhaps, explains and justifies the incongruous meeting between Hamas and Jihad organizations with officials at the Egyptian Public Intelligence Bureau, in Cairo, one week before El-Sisi met with Abbas, in Sharm El-Shiekh. Many Egyptians were either shocked or disappointed by seeing the leaders of the two terrorist organizations visiting Cairo, despite their long history of committing unforgivable assaults against civilians and military in Sinai.
As soon as Hamas leaders left Cairo, on their way to meet with their elder brother Erdogan, in Ankara, the terrorist organization issued a press statement about their visit to Cairo. In the statement, Hamas represented itself as the de facto ruler and representative of the Palestinian people. Then, the statement was closed by paying thanks to Qatar for its continued support to Hamas government in Gaza. Obviously, that was a gesture of rudeness and disrespect towards Egypt, given the heated diplomatic conflict between Qatar and Egypt, at the moment. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Hamas stabs Egypt in the back, as such.
During Arab Spring, in 2011, Hamas terrorists leaked into Egyptian borders and committed violent crimes in support of their parent organization; the Muslim Brotherhood. They took advantage of Egypt’s political fragility, during regime transition at the time, to violently break into prisons in Cairo to free leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, who were arrested under Mubarak.
In 2012, when the Muslim Brotherhood took over the presidency of the state, Hamas terrorists were allowed to enter Sinai in large numbers, as part of the larger Muslim Brotherhood’s plan to give Sinai to the Gaza people to create their own state under the rule of Hamas. This coordinated plot to occupy Sinai was discovered by the Egyptian military intelligence and, thus, became one of the main motivators behind the June 2013 revolution that brought down the Muslim Brotherhood regime.
As Cairo was frenzied with popular protests, supported by the military, against the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013, Hamas took the advantage to wreak havoc in Sinai. They committed terrorist attacks on civilians, especially Coptic Christian citizens, as well as against police and military facilities and personnel. Mohamed Al-Beltagy, one of the leading political figures of the Muslim Brotherhood, threatened, in a televised interview, that “the terrorist activities in Sinai will not stop unless Morsi is seated back in power.”
Between 2013 and 2015, Egypt went through a period of extreme chaos, insecurity, and instability. Hamas, again, took advantage of the situation to build and support a number of smaller terrorist organizations in Sinai, such as Ansar Beit Al-Makdes, Hasm, etc. In 2015, as security and stability was restored in Cairo, the Egyptian military moved to control the rising terrorism in Sinai. As a crucial step, the military flooded the illegal tunnels between Gaza and Sinai, which Hamas used for decades to leak terrorists and ammunitions into Sinai and leak food and other supplies from Sinai to Gaza. The drowning of the tunnels succeeded in cutting communications between the scattered terrorist factions in Sinai and Hamas.
By mid-2015, the terrorist groups, initially planted by Hamas into Sinai, united in one bigger terrorist organization, under the flag of the Islamic State (ISIS), which was in its strongest shape at that time, and called themselves “Wilayat Sinai.” Since then, Egypt has been paying hundreds of precious souls of young police and military officers in its ongoing war against terrorism in Sinai. It has been years and the military still cannot fully control the dreadful security situation caused by Hamas mess in Sinai.
Hamas’ political empowerment, over Gaza and the Palestinian people, does not remove the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization. Allowing a terrorist organization to run for office, via so-called democratic elections in 2006, was a mistake that has been cleverly abused by Qatar, Turkey, and Iran. The boiling Middle East cannot afford the consequences of repeating this mistake in 2020. If the practice of democratic elections is not carefully designed and performed with the purpose to enhance liberal values, diversity, and social development; then democracy could be easily abused to enable chaos and terrorism.