Counter-insurgency wars – struggles against “terrorism” – always breed corruption and counter-murder. And now the Egyptian army is following the same contaminated path as many of its neighbours by using a killer-militia in its war against Isis in Sinai. Most armies have proxy allies who can act as informants and treat civilians with brutality. The Syrians, the Iraqis, the Turks – and the Israelis when they co-opted their own Lebanese militias between 1976 and 2000, and the Americans in Iraq – all ended up shamed by the cruelty of their supposed allies.
But now Egypt – whose own President staged the original military coup which overthrew the country’s first elected president, Mohamed Morsi – is employing uniformed militias in the Sinai, where Isis has taken over many areas of the peninsula. It is a sign of just how desperate the military situation has become in the battle with Isis that the Egyptian Army, whose former field marshal and commander, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, is now the president, should be resorting to such measures. Egyptian police and soldiers are now attacked daily and civilians are disappearing, either for fear of Isis or because they are seized by the army’s “collaborators” (for so they are of course called) who are also executing ‘suspects’.