The Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula

(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv) Zack Gold - On Nov. 10, 2014, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a militant jihadi consortium that formed in Sinai following the 2011 uprising in Egypt, changed its name to Wilayat Sinai, the "Sinai Province" of the Islamic State. Over the past year, Wilayat Sinai developed into a paramilitary force undertaking larger, more frequent, and more complex operations. Yet Wilayat Sinai poses a much larger threat to the local population. The group has killed dozens as alleged spies and has publicly threatened opposing tribal leaders. The group has also interdicted the smuggling of cigarettes and marijuana for being "Islamic vices." Finally, Wilayat Sinai has attacked and harassed the international troops of the Multinational Force and Observers - the largest employer of Sinai's Bedouin. The influx of foreign fighters into Sinai creates an opportunity that the Egyptian government can exploit. The perceived external interests of these new outsiders could perhaps bring the local population to the government's side under the right circumstances, especially since, for the first time, the local population needs the Egyptian state to protect it from militancy. Despite unprecedented levels of Egyptian troops and weaponry in Sinai, and the reported killing of approximately one thousand "terrorists" this year, military operations have resulted in no enduring impact on Wilayat Sinai strongholds or operations. And despite a clampdown on Sinai's entryways from Gaza, the mainland, and the sea, advanced weaponry and fighters are still able to reach the peninsula. The writer, a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, was a researcher at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

2015-10-26 00:00:00

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