Daily Archives: August 16, 2012

Targeting Tribal Leaders: A New Militant Tactic in Sinai

Targeting Tribal Leaders: A New Militant Tactic in Sinai


By Ashley Lindsey

Militants killed Egyptian tribal leader Khalaf al-Menahy and his son Aug. 13 as the two were returning from a conference in east Sinai organized and attended by tribal leaders to denounce militancy, according to Sinai security forces. The senior al-Menahy was a prominent proponent of bolstering the Sinai Peninsula’s representation in Egypt’s parliament and of improving security in the region. He also was a prominent sheikh in the Sawarka tribe, said to be the largest in Sinai. Following his burial Aug. 13, the tribe vowed to seek vengeance.

This is the first reported case of militants attacking tribal leaders in Sinai. It comes soon after an attack on Egyptian security forces Aug. 5 and an attack on military checkpoints in northern Sinai on Aug. 8.

Although the militant tactic of targeting tribal leaders is new to Sinai, the tactic has been common in conflict zones in the Middle East and South Asia, such as in Yemen, Iraq and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Though it can offer many benefits to these militants — including weakening the targeted tribe and possibly leading to its co-option — these kinds of attacks tend to only succeed in zones with little government control and against tribes that cannot effectively retaliate. Examining similar instances of this tactic thus provides a helpful tool for assessing the consequences of attacks against tribal elements in the Sinai Peninsula.

Feeling a Little Punchy?

We Canadians have been told by our government how we are “Punching Above Our Weight” (Department of Foreign Affairs); also by our Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty.

So what does it mean? The Phrase Finder gives the meaning of the expression as competing against someone who you are no match for. Before we consider whether this is an indication of bravery or stupidity or something else we should check to see if we have any comrades in arms, so to speak. It turns out that we have.

According to the big kid on the block, Denmark punches above its weight also. And wait, so does Norway, … and the Netherlands, and Ireland, and the Philippines. The BBC news doesn’t want the UK to be left out:  UK’s world role: Punching above our weight. Let’s not leave out South Africa: Punching above our weight, and Australia: Australia, Punching Above Our Weight.

Even regions within countries such as the Government of South Australia are feeling scrappy: Punching above our weight.

To see others who punch above their weight and some who punch below their weight, read Over-achievers and under-achievers.

We suspect that the need to be seen to punch above one’s weight stems from a feeling of inadequacy and insecurity – the need to have to prove something to someone. The problem is that a good part of the world is feeling the same way so the effort is somewhat denigrated. If everyone is punching above their weight, what’s accomplished other than a waste of lives and resources?

And if we hear the phrase used one more time we may throw up – or start punching above our weight.

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