Increased Instability in Egypt

Increased Instability in Egypt

Increased instability and terrorist attacks in Egypt, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula, resulting in a military crackdown


The security situation in Egypt has deteriorated following the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, when he was forcibly removed from office in a military coup. The government under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has had to battle terrorist threats, continued instability, and a deep economic crisis.

Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has undergone a surge of militancy over the last year. The main group, Wilayat Sinai (formerly Ansar Beit al-Maqdis)—who swore allegiance to the self-declared Islamic State in November 2014—was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States. There have also been attacks in Cairo by Islamist militants who say they are taking revenge for the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since Morsi’s ouster, such as on the metro, outside of the Foreign Ministry building, and near Cairo University.

President Sisi has sworn new measures to root out the terrorism problem in the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip area. In October 2014, two attacks in the Sinai Peninsula killed thirty-one soldiers—the largest terror-related killing in Egypt since 2005. The military has also responded by bulldozing hundreds of homes in Rafah on the border with Gaza. In July 2015, Wilayat Sinai launched an assault on Egyptian military and government sites in northern Sinai, near Egypt’s border with Gaza and Israel, that left at least seventeen Egyptian soldiers and one hundred militants dead. There is also speculation that Hamas is also supplying the Sinai militants with weapons and other supplies

Increased instability in Egypt has also prompted a debate within the United States about its long-standing relationship and annual aid to the Egyptian military. Since two Egyptian leaders have been deposed by the military over the past four years, there is continued concern that Egypt could deteriorate into a state of sustained civil conflict, martial law, and political violence. The United States relies on Egypt for its assistance in counterterrorism efforts in the Sinai, as the U.S. State Department has cited an “overlapping strategic interest” between the two countries.

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