In a region that looks like capillary tubes, it is important to take the bombings in Damascus and Baghdad seriously especially with the deterioration of security in Egypt and the emergence of terrorist groups that are taking quite a new shape. Those groups do not have an organizational, web-like structure that can be exposed and disintegrated and whose motives to undermine the state, starting with the army, can be declared. The leaders of those groups do not work underground. Instead, they live among us and work in broad daylight like the Socialist Revolutionaries who released a video that disturbed all Egyptians.
Cairo’s al-Qaeda might be totally different from its counterpart in Iraq or even Syria, where the terrorist organization might really have been responsible for the last bombings that targeted security buildings in Damascus last Friday. In Egypt, al-Qaeda will have it the easy way since the the country’s military is busy with the verbal, psychological, and moral war waged against it from Tahrir Square and by media outlets that are supposedly state-owned like official channels that suffer from the guilt of misleading people during the revolution and are now doing their best to prove otherwise even if at the expense of the nation’s higher interests.
Street children, who carried out attacks and set fire in the recent events in Tahrir and the surrounding areas, are all over Egypt and they are very easy to recruit for they neither cost a lot of money nor are they under security surveillance. Regardless of who got them out of their world to Tahrir Square, these recruiters have devised a practical plan that can be implemented on the spot and that would likely inspire several more dangerous terrorist groups. They provided a model through those children who we watched setting buildings on fire and cheering as if they are in a Play Station game.
Football fans that call themselves – widely known as ‘ultras’ – are equally dangerous, for they harbor limitless grudges against the army and the police. Those were transferred from stadiums to Tahrir Square with their fireworks. They, therefore, became more focused on retaliating at security forces than cheering for their clubs. We heard the slogans they chanted during last Friday’s match, which were extremely hostile to the Military Police.
Bottom line is, Cairo is now facing three non-underground organizations with a new structure that basically depends on openness rather than secrecy. Members of those organizations number in millions and that is why they are capable of draining the resources of security institutions, thus opening the door for more dangerous terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda. Western intelligence agencies are likely to start paying attention to such phenomena, especially after the Damascus bombings, which are thought to have been carried out by al-Qaeda, and in the light of increased fanaticism in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.
The fact that several famous journalists received death threats can give an idea about how things can be in the future. This is despite the fact that the whole thing turned out to a prank by a driver working for one of them to spread fear of Islamists.
Lack of security is likely to turn the fires into bombings. That is what the West realizes and is trying its best to avoid through making sure power is handed to an elected government that derives its legitimacy from the people. Islamists are what we can bet on now, for they got 70% in the first and second rounds of parliamentary elections and it will be different for other parties to catch up in the third round.
The danger now lies in statements by civil powers about divisions within Islamists. This means that a group of them might adopt an extremist discourse and turn against the government and that the elected government would not be strong enough to prevent that from happening. On Saturday, an Egyptian daily independent run by anti-Islamists reported that thousands announced quitting the Muslim Brotherhood in last Friday’s million-man march.
Calling for the first parliament session to be held on Jan. 23 is a preemptive procedure that is necessary during those hard times, which require intelligence and political savvy to overcome them peacefully.
The writer is the Editorial Manager of AL Arabiya Net. The article was published in al-Gomhuria newspaper and translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid