By Abdel-Rahman Hussein
First Published: December 12, 2008
CAIRO: Releasing a second statement in as many days, Bedouin tribes in Sinai sent a blunt warning to their own tribesmen working as informants for security forces, telling them in no uncertain terms to desist or pay the price.
“There is now a conspiracy against us from the security forces to split the tribes of Sinai,” the Bedouin statement read. Directing its ire to “the traitors amongst us,” the statement contained a threat that those working with the government against their own tribes will be dealt with harshly.
“Where is the state? It is like a mafia, implementing a strategy of divide and rule amongst us,” the statement continued, before calling for the release of Bedouin activist Mussad Abul Fajr.
“We love our country and we are not terrorists or smugglers as the state and media portray us,” the statement concluded.
Despite an announcement by the four main tribes in the area calling for a Bedouin conference on Dec. 15, other members from these very same tribes met Friday to reject the conference.
“Everyone has their own ambitions and in the void after the violence everyone is trying to set the agenda,” said Rafah-based journalist Mustapha Singer.
The freedoms committee of the Journalists’ Syndicate will also host a conference Dec.16 to discuss Sinai and, according to Singer, two human rights organizations are currently secretly negotiating to organize a conference in Sinai itself.
The four main tribes inhabiting Rafah near the Gaza border had announced their intention to hold a conference Dec. 15 to discuss their political and economic problems with the government.
The four tribes — Tarabin, Sawarka, Rumelat and Tahaya — released an earlier statement announcing their wish for a conference to be held as well as taking the government to task over its failure to contain these political and economic problems.
“It’s a result of the government asking the tribes to state their demands. The plan is for the government to take into account all these demands and then meet with tribes on the day of the conference to address them,” North Sinai Tagammu party member Hussein El Qayem previously said.
Referring to a recent report by the defense and national security committee of the People's Assembly, the tribes lamented these “falsities” about the danger they seem to pose to the country’s security.
They also bemoaned the treatment they suffered at the hands of security forces in Sinai, pointing out recent clashes between the two which resulted in the deaths of four Bedouins.
The tribes said that “the state deserted [the children of Sinai] to an enemy that is not governed by agreements or ethical or religious standards, without any consideration to their humanity or dignity or constitutional, civil and economic rights,” the statement read.
The defense and national security committee of the People's Assembly warned that the current situation in North Sinai constituted a threat to national security along the border with Israel.