The Egyptian army is negotiating deals with 13 Sinai Bedouin tribal chiefs for setting up militias to counter alien militant activity in their territories across the peninsula and in the Israeli border region. On offer are new weapons, training and monthly paychecks for undertaking this task. Sinai has a Bedouin population of approximately 100,000 from which, debkafile’s military sources estimate, a fighting force of 8,000-10,000 can potentially be mustered.
Those sources note that Egypt has turned to the doctrine US Gen. David Petraeus, now CIA Director, applied in Iraq 2006 and 2007 to enlist Iraq’s Sunni tribal leaders in the western region to the war on al Qaeda by providing them with arms, training and regular payments.
The Egyptian army has so far managed to recruit two tribal leaders.
Abu Ahmed, chief of the Sawarkas, agreed this week to organize his men into a fighting force for securing the Egyptian-Israeli border and safeguarding it against terrorist and smuggling incursions from Sinai. Sawarka territory starts at the Philadelphi strip bordering southern Gaza and runs west along the Mediterranean coast of northern Sinai.