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
  • 29 November
    Political developments / Military developments
    President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi orders the Egyptian army and police forces to restore stability and security in Sinai within three months.
  • 28 November
    Military developments / Law enforcement
    In a statement, the interior ministry says it has killed 11 suspected militants and arrested 6 others during a shoot-out and security raid in Ismailia governorate, North Sinai.
  • 28 November
    Military developments / Law enforcement
    Security forces kill three suspected militants and arrest five others during a security operation in central North Sinai province.
  • 26 November
    Law enforcement / Human security
    A Cairo court finds 14 men guilty for ‘inciting debauchery’ and ‘abnormal sexual relations’, and sentences them to three years in prison. However, they are reportedly freed on bail of US$282 each, pending appeal. This follows the crackdown on LGBTI groups that started in September when a number of people raised rainbow flags during a Cairo concert.
  • 26 November
    Military developments
    The Union of Sinai Tribes issues a statement calling upon all tribes in Sinai to fight alongside the Egyptian army against terrorism, following the Al-Rawda mosque attack.
  • 25 November
    Military developments / Foreign relations
    Egypt’s military delays the reopening of its border crossing between Rafah and the Gaza Strip following the terrorist attack on Al-Rawda mosque. The three-day reopening would have been the second time it opened under the administration of the Palestinian Authority (PA) following the transfer of control from Hamas.
  • 24 November
    Armed clashes / Violent incidents
    A large-scale terrorist attack kills at least 305 people and injures 128 during prayers at a Sufi-affiliated mosque in Al-Rawda village in Bir al-Abd, 40 kilometres west of Arish, the North Sinai capital. The attack is the deadliest in Egypt’s history and involves at least one IED, followed by an assault of gunfire on those fleeing the initial attack. No group claims responsibility, although some reports say that the 25-40 attackers involved brandished the flag of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL). Wilayat Sinai (Sinai Province), the Sinai affiliate of ISIS, has carried out a number of attacks in Sinai in recent years, particularly against Egyptian security forces.
  • 24 November
    Military developments
    The military launches ground and air raids on suspected militant hideouts in North Sinai in retaliation to the terrorist attack on Al-Rawda mosque, including two drone strikes in Al-Resha village. In a statement, an army spokesperson says that the operation killed those responsible for the terrorist attack and also destroyed the vehicles used in the attack.
  • 24 November
    Law enforcement / Human security
    An Egyptian prosecutor charges five detainees with belonging to a banned group and calling for illegal assembly online. The five include a teachers’ union coordinator and rights lawyer.
  • 23 November
    Armed clashes / Violent incidents
    A teenage Bedouin is killed and another two are injured during a violent clash between Bedouins in Nekhel City’s Mahla area, central North Sinai province.
  • 22 November
    Law enforcement
    Egyptian prosecutors order the detention of 29 individuals suspected of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. In a statement, prosecutors accuse them of spying on phone calls to gather information on behalf of Turkish intelligence.
  • 22 November
    Law enforcement / Military developments
    The military launches airstrikes on Egypt’s western border with Libya, destroying ten SUVs loaded with ammunition and weapons, as part of its effort to crack down on smuggling.
  • 20 November
    Military developments / Armed clashes / Violent incidents
    Army forces kill six suspected militants and arrest 18 others during a security operation and armed clashes in North Sinai.
  • 20 November
    Armed clashes / Violent incidents / Foreign relations
    Spillover gunfire from North Sinai wounds an Israeli soldier along Israel’s border with Egypt in Karam Abu Salem, south of Rafah. In recent months, there have been a number of sporadic spillover attacks from Sinai to Israel as a result of the ongoing fighting between Egyptian forces and insurgent militant groups.
  • 18 November
    Armed clashes / Violent incidents
    Unidentified gunmen target a security patrol with an IED in the Khazan district of Arish. Nasser Al-Husseini, head of Egypt’s Central Security Forces (CSF) in Arish, survives the attack alongside other police personnel. There are no reports of other casualties.
  • 17 November
    Insurgency / Non-state armed groups / Law enforcement / Human security
    The Muslim Brotherhood says that its former spokesman, Dr Ahmed Aref, and former senior adviser, Dr Essam Al Haddad, are declaring a hunger strike in protest against torture at the notorious Aqrab prison, where they are currently incarcerated.
  • 14 November
    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 killing of Ibrahim Hussein Mohammed, chief of operations of Egypt’s 351st infantry battalion, in an attack on 9 November.
  • 12 November
    Economic developments
    A report by Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) says that Egypt’s trade deficit decreased to US$3.31 billion in August 2017, a fall of 26.7% from last year. It also notes that Egypt’s exports increased from US$1.86bn to US$2.17bn during the same period, while imports declined from US$6.38bn to US$5.48bn – a fall of 14%.
  • 11 November
    Insurgency / Non-state armed groups
    Militant group Jund al-Islam claims responsibility for an attack against Wilayat Sinai (Sinai Province), the Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. In a statement, Jund al-Islam does not report the number of casualties, although it pledges to continue battling the rival insurgent group, whom it accuses of committing crimes against civilians.
  • 9 November
    Armed clashes / Violent incidents
    An armed group of suspected militants kill nine truck drivers during an attack on a transport convoy in North Sinai. No group claims responsibility for the attack.
  • 8 November
    Law enforcement
    President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi says that those responsible for the 21 October attack, which killed 16 Egyptian police officers in the Western Desert area, have now all been killed or arrested. According to Sisi’s statement, the militants aimed to target Wadi El-Rayan Monastery.
  • 7 November
    Political developments / Military developments
    Parliament approves a draft law banning the use of drones without a licence from the Ministry of Defence, citing their threat to national security as the reason.
  • 6 November
    Political developments
    President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announces that he will not seek a third term as president, although he does not say whether he will run for a second term. The next round of presidential elections will be held in 2018.
  • 6 November
    Political developments
    Khaled Ali announces his intention to run in the 2018 presidential elections as a candidate for the Dostour Party, although a final decision is yet to be made. Ali is currently in the process of appealing a three-month prison sentence on charges of public indecency.
  • 3 November
    Insurgency / Non-state armed groups
    Ansar al-Islam, a new militant group, claims responsibility for the 21 October attack against Egyptian police officers in the Western Desert area, Giza province. The previously unknown group says in a statement that it has started its ‘jihad with the battle of the Lion’s Den’ and was ‘victorious against the enemy’s campaign’.
  • 2 November
    Armed clashes / Violent incidents
    Security forces kill five suspected militants and injure six others as they attempt to attack a checkpoint in an unspecified location in North Sinai province.