Egypt (Sinai)

Status
Medium-intensity

Conflict Summary

The Sinai Peninsula was at the centre of the Camp David Peace Accords of 1978, which led to the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty in 1979. Captured and controlled by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967, Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1982, laying the foundation for the historic land-for-peace agreement. The peace accord stipulated a minimised military presence in Sinai, which, combined with neglect, poor infrastructure and underdevelopment, ultimately meant that no Egyptian government fully asserted control over the Peninsula and its frustrated Bedouin population. When former president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in a popular uprising in 2011, the ensuing security vacuum destabilised the Sinai Peninsula and heightened militant activity in North Sinai. Sporadic attacks targeted Israel, the Egyptian military apparatus, oil and gas pipelines, international peacekeepers, tourists as well as residents of Sinai. However, the situation deteriorated when a coup d’état overthrew elected president Mohammad Morsi in July 2013.

The intermittent violence escalated into an organised insurgency that has since spread to the rest of the country, including the Suez Canal region, Delta region, Cairo and Alexandria. Despite ongoing counter-insurgency operations, armed groups in Sinai have continued to launch large-scale attacks against the military. The deadliest group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, declared allegiance to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in November 2014 and renamed itself ‘Sinai Province’.

  • 3,115
    Fatalities since 2013

  • Non State Parties
    • - Wilayat Sinai (Sinai Province)
    • - Hassm
    • - Lewaa Al-Thawra
    State Parties
    • - Egypt (gov of)
    • - Israel (gov of)

    Themes
    • Rebellion
    • Religion
    • Terrorism
    • Transnational crime
  • 13 December
    Law enforcement / Human security
    An Egyptian pop singer is sentenced to two years in prison for ‘inciting debauchery’ following the release of her music video. The director of the music video is also sentenced to two years in absentia.
  • 11 December
    Foreign relations
    Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in Cairo, resulting in the resumption of Russian civilian flights to Egypt which were halted in 2015. The countries also sign a $21 billion deal to start work on Egypt’s Dabaa nuclear power plant.
  • 10 December
    Military developments
    Army forces kill a senior militant and arrest two other suspected militants during a security operation in central North Sinai province.
  • 10 December
    Civil unrest / Foreign relations
    A fifth day of protests continue across Egyptian universities against US President Donald Trump’s decision to proclaim Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
  • 8 December
    Law enforcement / Human security
    Relatives of a detainee who died in police custody protest outside a hospital against Egyptian security forces in Qalyubia governorate, and accuse them of torturing him to death. Police deny the claim, saying that he died of a heart attack following his arrest on charges of robbery.
  • 5 December
    Military developments
    The interior ministry says that security forces have diffused an IED containing 250 kilograms of TNT in the Abu El-Hassien area in Bir al-Abd, North Sinai. On 24 November, Bir al-Abd was the target of Egypt’s deadliest terrorist attack when militants killed at least 305 and injured 122 at Al-Rawda mosque.
  • 5 December
    Armed clashes / Violent incidents / Insurgency / Non-state armed groups
    Wilayat Sinai (Sinai Province), the Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, claims responsibility for the murder of a male child civilian who was allegedly part of the Tarabin tribe, which has previously engaged in armed clashes against Wilayat Sinai.
  • 5 December
    Military developments
    Parliament approves the law proposed in November to ban the use of drones without prior approval. Hereafter, a licence from the Ministry of Defence will be required.
  • 5 December
    Law enforcement / Human security / Political developments
    Parliament approves a law banning youth centres from engaging in political activity and promoting religious agendas. This move is expected to restrict such activities to licensed political parties.
  • 5 December
    Law enforcement
    Security forces capture and detain Habib El-Adly, the interior minister under former president Hosni Mubarak. Originally sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of corruption in April 2017, Adly went into hiding following the loss of his appeal.
  • 4 December
    Military developments
    Security forces kill five suspected militants and arrest six others during a shoot-out and security operation in the desert area between 10th of Ramadan and Bilbis, Sharqiya governorate. They also confiscate large quantities of weapons and ammunition.
  • 4 December
    Foreign relations
    Special Representative and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, Ghassan Salamé, arrives in Cairo for a two-day visit with Egyptian officials to discuss a permanent deal to unite Libyan factions. Egypt’s military has previously carried out security operations on the country’s border with Libya, particularly to combat smuggling.