Sinai will not fall

HASSAN TAHSIN | Egypt celebrated the 39th anniversary of its October War victory on Saturday, October 6.

Sinai will not fall

Hassan Tahsin



Egypt celebrated the 39th anniversary of its October War victory on Saturday, October 6. The surprise attack and the ensuing military gains were extraordinary, especially since only six years before in 1967 the entire Arab world had been humiliated by Israel’s aggression. On October 6, 1973 the Egyptian military crossed the Suez Canal in one of the most impressive water barrier crossings in military history.

This unforgettable battle in the Sinai Peninsula was instrumental in bringing about a lot of changes in fighting tactics and military strategy.

The Western world, in particular, was perplexed since Israel had convinced them that Egypt was dead and could not stand up for itself.

Before this year’s October 6 celebration and since Mohamed Morsi took over the Egyptian presidency, there were rumors in the Egyptian street circulated by a number of satellite TV channels that are specialized in instigating sedition and igniting trouble, with the ulterior motive of undermining the nation’s stability for which all the people of Egypt are working so hard. These rumors were focused on Sinai. Some of them said that Israel was preparing to re-occupy Sinai, while others said that there was a plot to force half of Gaza’s population to migrate to Sinai and permanently settle there. However, the most bizarre rumor was that Sinai would become an independent state for Salafis and outlawed religious fanatics.

There is not doubt that Israel has military plans to reoccupy Sinai, but it would not venture now to commit such an error. As for outlaws, their hopes hang on the belief that the Egyptian army is not in a position to impose security throughout the Sinai Peninsula which is inhabited by followers of different sects and extremist schools of thought in addition to Bedouin Arabs.

This year’s October 6 celebrations triggered a lot of commando operations carried out by these Arabs against Israeli forces. It is interesting to examine how these commandos supported Egyptian intelligence agents dispatched to the peninsula. Fifty years ago, some people of Sinai formed a group called the “Sinai Mujahideen Organization” with the objective of carrying out reconnaissance and intelligence missions by taking advantage of the expertise of Bedouins and others to overcome the obstacles facing Egyptian military intelligence officials.

In 1997, the organization’s name was changed to the “Sinai Mujahideen Society”. The story of the formation of this organization dates back to the 1960s when Egyptian military intelligence asked Eid Jarir, tribal chieftain of Massoud Island, to select seven members of his tribe to work with military intelligence to carry out intelligence activities against Israel.

Accordingly, he nominated the men and they worked with the military. The organization had three branches located in Port Said, Ismailia and Suez, and each branch was led by a group of officers from the armed forces.

Then the big farce came when former president Anwar Sadat signed the Camp David Treaty and agreed not to deploy Egyptian forces in Sinai. It was then the turn of his successor Hosni Mubarak who handed the keys of Sinai to Israel and the Palestinian Hamas organization, and for the next 30 years refused to answer Egyptians’ questions about what was happening in Sinai.

However, the day has now come when what is happening in Sinai is one of the most important questions being asked by the Egyptian people.

Today we remember the glories of the October War and those who sacrificed their lives and whom we consider to be martyrs. It is time to not only honor them but to highlight their role so as to make them role models for the generations to come in their sacrifice for the nation. The events which took place in our wars are well known and have been registered in the records of the Egyptian armed forces with details of all battles.

It is time to open these records to the public to let our younger generation know more about the real heroes of the Egyptian people. If the January 25 Revolution has brought back Egypt to the Egyptians, then our new leadership must restore the glory of the October War to us.



Hassan Tahsin is an Egyptian writer and political analyst. He can be reached at