Egypt unable to mount any police or military response because the constraints imposed as a result of its peace treaty with Israel, which regulates the amount of security personnel in the region

Jack Shenker

January 24, 2012

A group of bedouin tribesmen has stormed a tourist resort in the Sinai peninsula in an effort to reclaim land, the latest in a string of conflicts between the Egyptian state and local communities emboldened by the revolution.

Egyptian media reports claim that dozens of gunmen took control of Aqua-Sun, a Red Sea hotel complex boasting 2km of private beaches to the south of Taba, and are demanding 4m Egyptian pounds (£425,000) in exchange for leaving the site peacefully. No tourists were staying in the resort at the time, and although several Egyptian security guards were taken hostage during the incident, their lives are not believed to be in danger.

Disputes over land have been common in the Sinai ever since the central government embarked on a mass “Red Sea Riviera” programme of resort construction along the eastern coast in the 1990s.

Customary law was replaced by a new system of land ownership and large swaths of previously bedouin-controlled coastal areas were sold to private investors under the auspices of the state, leading to allegations by some locals that they were being cheated out of their property.

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