ISIS in Sinai: A Persistent Threat for Egypt

(Center for Global Policy) Allison McManus - On May 30, ISIS-affiliated militants in northern Sinai carried out an IED attack on an Egyptian military convoy, killing a lieutenant colonel. Two weeks later, militants tortured and killed a Bedouin elder, tying the man to a pole and setting off explosives, the latest in retributive violence against pro-government tribes. Even after nearly six years of sustained activity from the Egyptian Armed Forces, with help from Israeli forces, Wilayat Sinai remains an active threat, claiming 234 attacks in the past 12 months, with nearly 600 civilian and security force casualties. While the vast majority of attacks remain concentrated in the eastern Sinai near the Gazan border, this year at least 10 attacks have taken place in the area around Bir al-Abd to the west, on the routes toward the Suez Canal. The Egyptian military has enlisted the help of locals in Sinai, providing arms and financial resources. Small, army-backed militias are present across the province, operating alongside the Egyptian military or independently. Ramailat, Sawarka, and Tarabin tribesmen have most visibly and actively supported the military's efforts and have been those most targeted by Wilayat Sinai in retaliation. The Multinational Force of Observers in Sinai operates well outside of ISIS' area of operations, particularly since 2016, when it closed its northern outpost and moved its forces south. The writer, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Policy, served for six years as the research director for the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, where she ran the Egypt Security Watch project.

2020-06-24 00:00:00

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