The Times of Israel
As a Cairo court defines the entire Gaza Islamist group as a terror organization, Egypt’s president shows he’s more than just talk
It’s not yet clear quite how an Egyptian court’s decision Saturday to define Hamas, in its entirety, as a terror group will play out. Hitherto, only the organization’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was defined as such, but the new ruling widens the definition to include the political branch. Does this mean that from here on out Egypt will completely ban Hamas, cutting all ties to the group including those involving Cairo’s own intelligence agencies?
What can be said with a high degree of certainty, especially in light of the almost hysterical response to the ruling in the Gaza Strip, is that on a symbolic level this is Cairo’s declaration of war on Hamas. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is proving that there is only one leader in the Middle East who can be compared to Winston Churchill, and he sits in Cairo.
With Sissi, it’s not just talk. It’s action too. He has, memorably, now made a series of speeches calling for a revolution in Islamic thought, to shift the emphasis away from violence and to create a more humane Islam. He has declared war upon radical Islam wherever it may be — not only upon the Islamic State and its affiliates, who have attacked Egyptians in Libya and Egypt proper, but on the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates as well.
Many months ago, the president set out on a wide scale military operation in the Sinai Peninsula that his associates have assessed will last two to three years. During this period, he has said, Egypt will pay a price, perhaps a heavy one, but there is no choice and no escape from carrying it out.
When IS operatives in Libya abducted Coptic Egyptians and executed them, Sissi again did not hesitate: He sent Egyptian air force jets to bomb dozens of IS targets on Libyan soil.
The court decision underlines his approach: There is no distinction between a military wing and a political wing. He’ll leave any such nuances to various international officials, mostly in Europe, who have recently tried to create a dialogue with Hamas.