In what has been labelled an attempt to remain relevant, Ahmed Shafiq has issued a long plea from abroad urging the public to focus on the security threat in Sinai. The former prime minister and presidential candidate asked Egyptian to put their political differences aside and work to stop “the imminent and tangible danger approaching the land of Egypt in the Sinai.”
“He has no history on this topic before,” said Mohammed Kadry Saeed, a retired major general who writes about security policy. The general was confused as to why Shafiq would address this topic and added that his time as prime minister was too brief to offer an articulate vision of how he would face the issues arising in the Sinai.
Shafiq stated that the Sinai is “no less important than any inch of the rest of the land,” and that the Muslim Brotherhood is out of their depth when dealing with such issues. The Brotherhood, according to Shafiq, “has not proven to have a full awareness of Egyptian national interests or the dimensions of Egyptian national security.”
Saeed countered that he believes the present government is working hard to address the increased presence of militant groups operating in Egypt. “It will take a long time, of course. We suffered from terrorism before, but now I think they are taking this issue seriously by many means. They have military units there, they also have a lot of intelligence operations. They have their own plan, it may not be something that is published, but they’re working on it and it will require patience.”
“It’s rhetoric actually,” agreed political analyst Gamal Soltan, director of the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. “It will fall on deaf ears though; it’s wishful thinking.”
Soltan said that the fighting in the Sinai will only end if “we see a very courageous initiative by the president.”
As for Shafiq’s political presence, Soltan believes that the ship has sailed. “Egypt has now gone beyond the old regime. The last chance for Shafiq was the presidential election, regardless of whether he is innocent or guilty of the accusations brought against him. For Shafiq it is over. It is a completely new game and completely new people are representing the secular and non-Islamic [factions].”
Late on Tuesday night the Egyptian Stock Exchange told state-run MENA news agency that they had frozen the trading portfolios of Shafiq, his deceased wife and his three daughters.