Yesterday (Sunday), the Egyptian army killed 36 Islamists who had been taken into government custody. It is now Monday, and at least 24 police officers are reported to have been killed this morning by Islamists who ambushed their minibuses in the northern Sinai, apparently in direct retribution. Some reports indicate that the Islamists killed the officers execution-style, by ordering them to lie on the ground and then shooting them to death.
We already knew that Islamists of the Brotherhood stripe are comfortable with summary executions of their enemies, but the army’s acknowledged, unapologetic mowing down of civilians in custody warrants special note. This act removes any lingering doubt, following the destruction of the pro-Morsi sit-ins in Ramses Square, that the army will do whatever it deems necessary, no matter how morally reprehensible, to crush the Islamist opposition.
If you’re wondering why the army isn’t worried about the Americans turning off the $1.5 billion aid tap in response to such acts, it’s because the Gulf monarchies, which are horrified by Islamist ascendancy, are pouring money into the Egyptian government’s coffers to the tune of $12 billion. The Saudis and the UAE have General al-Sisi’s back, so Western revulsion at the army’s tactics is no longer particularly relevant.
So get ready for more. Yesterday, General al-Sisi made his first public statement since the crackdown. “We will not accept any more attacks,” he said. “We will meet with full force.”