RN Associate Revkin in EgyptSource: Outsourcing Justice in the Sinai

13/03/2013

RN Associate Mara Revkin, in an article for Atlantic Council’s EgyptSource, offers a detailed analysis of the complex dynamic that has led to the proliferation and popularity of Shari’a courts and vigilante security groups in the “economically destitute and politically disadvantaged” Sinai Peninsula.  Noting the historical basis for informal dispute resolution, she highlights that the weakness and negligence of the state, as much as religious fundamentalism, is responsible for the spread of Shari’a courts and the rise in shadow state ‘security’ organizations.

 

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Outsourcing Justice in Sinai: Sharia Courts Thrive in the Shadow of a Weak State
Mara Revkin | March 12, 2013

 

The declaration of a state of emergency in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on March 9 in anticipation of planned jihadist attacks on government targets indicates the seriousness of a systemic security breakdown that threatens to destabilize not only Egypt but also its volatile borders with Gaza and Israel. With an estimated 1,600 extremists on the loose in Sinai, it’s no wonder this 23,000-square-mile desert has been ominously dubbed, “the new Afghanistan.”  A land bridge linking the black markets and fragile states of North Africa with the greater Middle East, Sinai has become a transcontinental corridor of organized crime and global terrorism. It is a place where masked gunmen routinely hijack police cars in broad daylight, jihadists brazenly test-fire long-range missiles from rogue training camps, and gangs of human traffickers sell sub-Saharan refugees into slavery, or worse, steal their organs.

In the economically destitute and politically disenfranchised governorates of North and South Sinai, the need for law and order has never been more acute, yet public confidence in the central government is at an all-time low. After decades of economic mismanagement and a misguided counter-terrorism crackdown that resulted in the mass incarceration of thousands of Bedouins – whose twenty some-odd tribes account for roughly 70 percent of the population of the North and South Sinai governorates – the Egyptian state is associated not with security, but with incompetence, repression and predatory corruption. (continue reading)

 

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