Sinai Terrorism

Category: al-Qaeda

Egypt pleads for U.S. help on ‘war on terror’

Abdel Fattah El-Sisi the ex army chief – who looks odds on to become the new head of state – has pleaded with the United States to help in their fight against terrorism originating from the Sinai Peninsula, asEl-Sisi puts it to help avoid the creation of new Afghanistans in the Middle East.  El-Sisi is calling for the resumption of U.S. military aid, which is worth around $1.3 billion a year, yet this was frozen buy the U.S. after a violent crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters.  “The Egyptian army is undertaking major operations in the Sinai so it is not transformed into a base for terrorism that will threaten its neighbours and make Egypt unstable. If Egypt is unstable then the entire region is unstable.” The Egyptian army has been undertaking operations in the Sinai for a while now, with little success as much of what they have been doing has targeted the local Bedouin population and the underground economy there, which has only further antagonised the Bedouins.  These Bedouins hold the key to peace in the region, and the Egyptian military operations has only set to push them into the welcoming arms of the jihadi groups operating there.

The framing of El-Sisi’s pleading for U.S. money and equipment is designed to push President Obama into a corner where he cannot turn his back on Egypt and their fight on terrorism or he risks losing a strong and increasingly rare ally in that part of the world. However Obama needs to stand firm against these pressures as the lack of any progress towards improving their human rights record is intollerable, especially when Egypt sentances 529 Morsi supporters to death. “No review of evidence, no witnesses, no time for the defense to make their case,” one of the lawyers, Khaled el-Koumi told reporters. The West must take a tough stance against these breaches of human rights not just in this trial but the breaches that take place against those in the Sinai Peninsula and people who oppose the military backed government in place after their coup on 3rd July 2013.

Egypt’s foreign minister said that “The West risks losing the Egyptian people” partly because Western governments do not always fully support the statements and actions of the Egyptian government. For example how the UK has not declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, despite the fact that they have not carried out any terrorist style attack (however it is still unclear about if they have links to or help fund any of the terrorist groups operating in the Sinai). He also claims thathis government will enhance and engage the Sinai population with economic and social measures. Again it remains to be seen if these actions will go ahead, the Bedouin in the Sinai are used to this lip service paid to them when elections come around as it is a common place. But the Sinai is in desperate need of it, as another soldier was killed this week when his convoy was attacked by suspected militants in Sheikh Zuweid inspired by al-Qaeda.

The Sinai which El-Sisi says is a threat to the world if it continues to grow and is not helped by the U.S. giving military aid and equipment, is plausible. However the main reason it is growing is because the local population have been pushed into the arms of these insurgents because of teir horrific treatment by the Egyptian military and government. Therefore i would only resume aid to Egypt once they demonstrate a long term commitment to helping re-develop the Sinai both economically and for equal status for the Bedouin. Actions that would make that a reality would also go a long way to cutting down the number of terrorist groups and attacks that take place.


Terror in the Sinai Report

Report on Terror in the Sinai by the Henry Jackson Society that i helped research for.

Sinai is under “complete control”

With the announcement yesterday that the Egyptian Military has “complete control” over the Sinai Peninsula, it shows how little the military really know what is going on over there, as attacks are still occurring there with regularity and more sophistication in 2014. The rate of attacks in the Sinai and attacks in mainland Egypt by Sinai based terror groups has decreased since the peak of  July 2013 – after President Morsi was ousted in a military coup. However the frequency of attacks now is still higher than that of a year ago, which begs the question if the Sinai is under “complete control”, what is not under control?

If anything the threat is increasing in the Sinai as the types of attacks are becoming more sophisticated, which was demonstrated when Ansar Bayt al Maqdis (ABM) used a S.A.M. to shoot down an Egyptian helicopter which killed five people on the 25th January 2014 in Sheikh Zuweid. This was only a day after ABM let off four bombs in Cairo, killing six people. But what is more concerning is the spread of attacks to the Egyptian mainland, as well as an expansion of targets to include civilians as well as military, police and security forces. This expansion is epitomised by the suicide attack on an Egyptian tour bus on the 16th February 2014, which killed three South Korean tourists and their Egyptian driver, this attack was also claimed by ABM as part of their “economic war” against the treacherous regime.

This shows the danger is not just increasing but it is spreading from the Sinai to mainland Egypt, especially the capital of Cairo. This can be seen by the increase in attacks in Cairo from Sinai based terror groups as more attacks have taken place this year in Cairo, than the whole of last year already. Recently Ajnad Misr let of bombs at a university in Cairo which wounded eight people. Ajnad Misr have carried out a spate of attacks this month after their announcement of existence on 23rd January.

Today is Sinai Liberation Day, while Egypt is celebrating the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982 the terrorist groups – who have links to al-Qaeda and the support of them – are trying to liberate the Sinai for themselves as an Islamic Emirate. The Sinai is being put to the torch by the multitude of terrorist and militant attacks there which have dominated the region since 2011. It remains to be seen if in a few years’ time these Islamic militants will be celebrating their own liberation day.

The sending often apache helicopters by the United States for use in the Sinai for use in counter terrorism operations – which was urged by Israel – will hopefully help to combat the growing insurgence in the Sinai. However their effectiveness remains to be seen.