Experts: Egypt in life-and-death struggle, though regime is stable

In order for the Egyptians to be effective they need new equipment for surveillance, specifically drones to more precisely combat the jihadists.

July 7, 2015 01:59
2 minute read.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses the UN General Assembly in New York.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is in a life-and-death struggle as a Sinai-based Islamist insurgency rages but the regime is not about to collapse, experts say.

“There is no doubt that the current strategy has not delivered the necessary results when it comes to defeating the insurgency,” Mokhtar Awad, a research associate with the Washington DC-based think tank Center for American Progress told The Jerusalem Post, on Sunday.

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In order for the Egyptians to be effective they need new equipment for surveillance, specifically drones to more precisely combat the jihadists and move away from a conventional military doctrine in the Sinai, Awad said.

“There is little question that the military will be able to keep the jihadists’ presence to northeastern Sinai, but absent some changes we are still some ways away from seeing the jihadists defeated outright and limiting their capacity to penetrate mainland Egypt with new clandestine cells or oneoff attacks like assassinations or suicide bombings,” he continued.

Awad also asserted that Egyptian-Israeli security cooperation means the Jewish state continues to rely on Egypt to find and destroy tunnels from Gaza, which remain the primary way for pro-Islamic State elements inside Gaza to have greater cooperation with jihadists in Sinai, he said.

Prof. Yoram Meital, chairman of Chaim Herzog Center for Middle Eastern Studies and diplomacy at Ben-Gurion University, said “Sisi is determined to win the war” against Islamic State in Sinai, adding that Israel and Egypt view the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadists as two sides of the same coin.

Demonstrating how close Egypt and Israel are cooperating regarding the violence in Sinai is the fact that Egypt “sent troops and weapons that are strictly forbidden in accordance with the military annex of the peace treaty into Sinai with Israel’s consent,” he said.

He suggested that “the Egyptian government has no choice but to play a growing role in combating Islamic State in the region, especially in neighboring Libya.”

Samuel Tadros, a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, however, told the Post Egypt is preoccupied “with its own fight against terrorism and is unable to project power abroad.”

Egypt may strike Libya, he said, but only as a tactical move to ensure the security of its western border.

Despite serious infringements of personal freedom worse than those under Hosni Mubarak’s rule and even with the strong presence of terrorists in Sinai, all the experts agreed that Sisi’s regime, nevertheless, remains stable.

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