Egyptian farce in the face of Copt murders

Egyptian farce in the face of Copt murders
2 min read
16 Feb, 2015
Comment: The Egyptian government did little to save 21 Copts killed by an IS-affiliated group in Libya. Many will ask if incompetence such was on purpose, says Wael Kandil.
Mahlab talked a good game, but offered little action [AFP]

The Egyptian regime's response to the capture of 21 Egyptian Copts by a Libyan group believed to be linked to the Islamic State group was a farce.

The Egyptian media gave the impression that those in charge knew what they were doing, and that the hostages would be freed. Well, that is not how it ended.

Ibrahim Mahlab, Egypt's prime minister, reassured the Coptic community, even saying he was prepared to hand himself over to the IS group in return for their return.

If we remove the rhetoric but presume Mahlab was serious about his government's intentions to get those men free, any offer made would have required a real effort to identify the kidnappers, learn their demands, and inform the public of the reality of the situation. Where was all of that?

     It seemed as though the entire affair was playing out as yet another theatrical display.

Instead, the government's apathy in dealing with the crisis prompted many to believe that the Sisi regime was manufacturing an Egyptian version of the Moaz al-Kassasbeh affair, in order to give itself the pretext and freedom to meddle militarily in Libya.

For a moment, it seemed as though the entire affair was playing out as yet another theatrical display performed by the government in order to manipulate ordinary Egyptians.

One must recall how Abdel Fattah al-Sisi responded to the first attack by armed groups under his presidency. He could only tell the families of the victims: "I wish it were me."

There was no serious and respectful handling of the crisis because the entire thinking is focused on how to exploit the tragedy to achieve political and economic gains for the regime.

What is interesting as well is this strange synchronisation between a French aircraft deal, the visit of Russia's Vladimir Putin to Egypt, rumoured meetings between aides to Libyan military leader Khalifa Haftar and Cairo intelligence officials, and now, the execution of 21 Copts in Sirte.

And so Egyptian jets have bombed positions in Libya. Is this the war Sisi wants to justifiy his policies?

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.