On eve of Revolution Anniversary, Cairo Shaken by deadly Bombings

(By Juan Cole)

Two bombings shook the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Friday morning. The first was apparently a car bomb detonated at 5:30 am that targeted the Directorate of Security, leaving 4 dead and 51 wounded. Car bombs have been rare in Egypt but are common in Iraq and Syria, and it is a very bad sign that they have started being deployed in Cairo.

A second bomb was set off two hours later near a metro station in Doqqi, killing 1 and wounding 15.

My twitter friends in Cairo are saying that crowds gathered after the explosions angrily blaming the Muslim Brotherhood. Likely that organization, to which deposed president Muhammad Morsi belonged, will also be blamed officially. In fact, it is far more likely that this bombing was the work of Muslim radicals much to the right of the Brotherhood.

This is the biggest act of terrorism we’ve seen in Cairo itself in some time. The Directorate of Security in the provincial Delta dept city of Mansoura was bombed in December, which led to the government declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization (even though no evidence was given that the Brotherhood carried out that attack).

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Related video

A video report on the bombing :


Also on Friday < authorities in Port Said announced that they had broken up a plot to bomb military residences. They said that they had confiscated large amounts of expoisives, enough to level an apartment building.

Adherents of Political Islam in Egypt are disappointed by the military coup of last July 3 against the elected president of Egypt, and some may have been radicalized by these steps.

12 Responses

  1. I’m curious as to why so many in the West support the FSA’s militant campaign in Syria but violence in Egypt is regarded as terrorism. Both are one-party regimes that lead a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy, MB lead protests. Is it just because Sisi is aligned with Israel and Assad is not or do people see an actual difference in the events?

    • Egypt is not yet a one-party state. It could become one, but depends on the voting and elite maneuvering this spring and summer. It is an exclusionary state in the sense that the religiously-based parties have been excluded and the Muslim Brotherhood is being attacked. But it is still politically diverse.

      • Does political diversity equate to the chance that there can be an electoral change of government, and/or redistribution of what the military-“capitalists” have accumulated?

        • I think that’s a key question. Arguably, the situation under Mubarak was ‘politically diverse’, as there were many parties. But everyone knew that there would not/ could not be a change of government through the ‘democratic process’, such as it was. Hence, Tahrir square, the uprising in all parts of Egypt, the coordinated strikes, etc., were all necessary to remove Mubarak. What has now replaced him is, again, only cosmetically diverse.

      • Technically true of course, but then Assad also allowed a tame ‘opposition’. Is the difference between Assad’s tame opposition and Sisi’s truly large enough that violence is legitimate in one case but not the other? I don’t really see it.

      • I wonder what will happen if Hamdeen Sabahi goes through with his plan to run as a presidential candidate. Without doubt, the media and state forces will be going all out for Sisi (or maybe Muwafi), but it would seem that Sabahi’s candidacy will tear open the so-called June 30 coalition. The crackdown is already ripping its fabric, but the presidential contest could get very unpleasant in terms of rhetoric and violence. There is the issue of whether Sabbahi or whoever is the main challenger will even be allowed to campaign to any appreciable degree, or whether his supporters be rounded up at every turn. The handling of the referendum does not bode well. The forces running the counter-revolution have a massive stake in not allowing a second civilian challenge to their power, one that could be substantially more threatening the Morsi.

        Khaled Ali, should he run, could be fairly hazardous to the plan to make Sisi the president. It would seem that either Sabahi or Khaled Ali could divide the urban vote (especially gaining the leftist and liberal votes), while making progress in the rural areas. The elites backing Sisi will try to sell a false package of goods by putting up a grandiose sounding platform that will never really materialize.

        The level of debate and free speech that a real campaign would require could pose problems for sustaining the crackdown. However, engaging in too much electoral repression risks creating an explosion. Perhaps Sisi’s elite and foreign backers within the government are counting on his rivals not building any real momentum or winning support. That could be a very significant mistake.

        It would be unfathomable why supposedly leftist movements would prefer Sisi to either Sabahi or Khaled Ali. This situation can’t sustain itself. There is no way that Sisi’s polices in the realms of human rights, the economy, and other areas can avoid becoming ever more divisive. If a Sisi administration is just a continuation of what we see now, it is going to be very unattractive for huge numbers of Egyptians.

        If the MB and the Salafists falter too much, something else will seek to fill the opposition void as the main anti-Sisi force. It is probably not going too much out on a limb to envision that some kind of labor-oriented force allied to the revolutionaries and certain liberals will make its move soon. After all, Sisi and his handlers clearly do not fit with their vision of what Egypt should be like. It happens in every other part of the world, so why not eventually Egypt?

    • “The FSA’s military campaign” and “violence in Egypt” are not quite apples-to-apples.

      And, in fact, the behavior of rebel factions in Syria has driven down support for the FSA.

  2. Your last paragraph is the key to the whole anti terorrism campaign in Egypt.
    ‘Some may have become radicalised’ indeed an insinuation not as blatant as the egyptian media and papers that say outright the mb are murderers.

    For the record: a bomb blast of such magnitude it leaves a big hole in the ground and blows up half the walls of the nearby museum of islamic heritage yet leaves the purported car with a couple of dents?
    As for radicalisation say idiocy and you would be closer to the mark why would a radical group allow its members to be murdered on a daily basis with no retaliation except for the occasional burning of an empty police car yet go blow up a build8ng which will only impact negatively on the image that they have succeeded in building of a peaceful revolution.
    Every time an event crops up we hear the ministry of interior announce that they are ready for any heavy threats and sure enough these threats are carried out.
    On new years eve they said there will be no disturbances and no disturbances sure en9ugh took place.
    Add to that the fact that the supporters of beit almaqdis have announced their responsibility for every single previous attack yet no accusation has been seen coming from the current government against them; their insignia was in fact seen hanging in a conference that was encouraging people to support general sisi for presidency …yet every single bomb attack has been an excuse for further crackdowns on peaceful protestors. They killed 20 yesterday one of whom was a 4 year old child.
    Another point it is always the small assigned police that end up dying the officers are always outside the building due to be blown up.

    • “their insignia was in fact seen hanging in a conference that was encouraging people to support general sisi for presidency …”

      Is this your very own handle, the Egyptian blogger wa7damasrya from Alexandria? Do you have a source for above statement? I understood the jihadists of Ansar Beyt Al-Maqdis [Partisans of Jerusalem] are located in the Sinai Peninsula and were involved in attacks along the Israeli border. The IDF killed four jihadists in a drone attack. In December, the Egyptian army killed a senior leader of AQ linked group in North Sinai, Ibrahim Mohamed Freg [aka Abu Suhaib], in an ambush in Sheikh Zuweid city.

      Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis reveals the jihadi responsible for South Sinai Security attack
      The video also featured Sinai demos and protestor being shot, in addition to the police dispersal of pro-Morsy Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda sit-ins. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis criticized the Secretary General of the Nour Party Galal al-Morra for supporting the “coup” against Morsy, and Salafi-leader Yasser Borhamy for standing next to a pastor. The video displays the image of the car used in the attack, loaded with a number of butane cylinders.

  3. Professor, where are the Salafists these days?

    The last time you wrote about them, those extremist religious-right parties, to the right of the MB itself, had, somewhat oddly, joined the anti-MB protests, along with the pro-military nationalists and the Arab Spring protesters.

    • The Salafis do not like the new constitution, but the Salafi Nur Party asked the faithful to vote for it. Apparently few of them did.

  4. In a revolution all element of power are uprooted and planted a new. An uprising against Mubarak does not make a revolution. Hopefully the Egyptian military will tolerate intellectual opposition or create and forge them in the bowl of their jail as a safety valve for Egypt, for the day after the lamp posts and tree trunks have fulfilled their revolutionary duty.

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