The armed forces of Egypt faced a familiar tactic being used by ISIS (Islamic State – IS) and various Takfiri terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria respectively. This applies to a sudden attack based on storming important targets, creating confusion, basing forces within civilian areas, laying booby traps and other important areas. However, the military of Egypt bided its time and utilized airpower to the maximum.
Therefore, the city of Sheikh Zuweid soon came under firm control after inflicting heavy losses on Wilayat Sinai (an affiliate of ISIS).
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt is determined to strengthen the central state and implement economic reforms. At the same time, el-Sisi seeks to dismantle areas of religious sedition. This notably applies to tackling the sectarian Muslim Brotherhood from different angles and clamping down on militant Salafi indoctrination. Of course, the task is very complex given the nature of outside nations that meddle, the role of religious funded projects based on usurping the nation state, the depth of the Muslim Brotherhood within society internally, dangerous players that abuse Gulf petrodollars, militant Islamists that manipulate educational facilities, negative geopolitical factors in Libya and Gaza – and other complex areas.
Wilayat Sinai (Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis prior to allegiance to ISIS) and the Muslim Brotherhood – and other Takfiri forces in Egypt – seek to usurp the nation state and turn the clock back to the seventh century. In the opposite direction, el-Sisi seeks to strengthen state institutions and to set Egypt on a firm democratic path based on internal dynamics. However, in order for Egypt to reach this stage then both internal dangers, outside meddling and harsh geopolitical factors must be overcome.
ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood therefore seek to utilize the Sinai, Gaza, Libya, international jihadist networks and areas of militancy throughout Egypt. It is imperative for these sinister forces to attack Egypt internally because of the recent political chaos in this country. At the same time, poverty related to recent events since the so-called Arab Spring in Egypt and sowing the seeds of economic chaos are other areas that ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood seek to utilize.
Therefore, the attack on Sheikh Zuweid by the ISIS affiliate Wilayat Sinai had multiple connotations. These connotations apply to obtaining a powerful military base in the Sinai, weakening the strong image of el-Sisi, gaining ground in order to obtain further outside funding, to weaken the central state, spread chaos, to rule a civilian population based on indoctrination, to strengthen international jihadi networks and bridge them with domestic forces – and other important factors.
Al-Monitor reports: “On the morning of July 1, 2015, Sinai witnessed a new series of highly complicated developments, following strategic changes in the ongoing war between the Islamic State affiliates in Egypt, Wilayat Sinai (formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis) and the Egyptian army. This step is dangerous because Wilayat Sinai attempted to maneuver on the field to control Sheikh Zuweid city, the second largest city in North Sinai and the most important border city that is less than 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) away from the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Yet despite the well-planned attack that bore fruit in certain parts of Iraq and Syria for ISIS, the armed forces of Egypt repulsed and then cleared the area of Takfiri Islamists. In this sense, the image of el-Sisi will be boosted because just like the barbaric killings of Coptic Orthodox Christians in Libya by ISIS, the leader of Egypt responded both times quickly and with precision. Therefore, the armed forces of Egypt utilized their respective military strengths because of central political forces under the control of el-Sisi that responded quickly to a very dangerous situation.
The armed forces of Egypt refused to be bated out of their military positions in the knowledge of booby-traps, possible suicide attacks, roads being mined by bombs and other typical ISIS tactics being employed by Wilayat Sinai. Not only this, the armed forces refused to allow ground troops to become bogged down while Takfiri Islamists continued with their shock and awe tactics. On top of this, F-16 Falcons attacked terrorists irrespective if in the open, or if ISIS affiliated terrorists tried to utilize civilian areas. This reality means that the only shock and awe that worked belonged to the tactics employed by the armed forces of Egypt because air power refused to allow any breathing space.
It soon became apparent to Wilayat Sinai that they couldn’t hold Sheikh Zuweid because more than 50 terrorists were killed quickly once the armed forces of Egypt counter attacked. Not surprisingly, Wilayat Sinai panicked and retreated where possible because clearly the armed forces of Egypt gained the upper hand.
Of course, el-Sisi is fully aware that other sinister attacks will be in the terrorist pipeline. At the same time, el-Sisi knows full well that ratlines emanating in Libya and Gaza – and based on the rhetoric of Turkey under President Erdogan and the intrigues of Qatar – will continue to threaten the internal security of Egypt. However, el-Sisi is determined to meet the many complex challenges that Egypt faces because he knows the future of Egypt is at stake.
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