from From the Potomac to the Euphrates and Middle East Program

How To Get Egypt’s Generals Back On Our Side

January 6, 2015

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This article was originally published here on ForeignPolicy.com on Monday, January 5, 2015.

Almost as soon as the nasheed, a religious chant, begins, an improvised explosive device destroys a military vehicle in the distance. The scene repeats again, in super-slow motion. The nasheed continues, encouraging jihadists to raise up their swords, fight for god, and make their way to paradise. In the next scene, terrorists assault a small military outpost nestled amid palm trees, shooting their way through the rubble and killing a soldier who returns fire. A tank comes into view, its turret swinging wildly, raking the area with machine gun fire ineffectively, and then beating a hasty retreat. The footage then shifts to the gruesome aftermath: a burned-out tank, a disabled armored personnel carrier, and dead, mangled soldiers.

The attack on Oct. 24, purportedly captured in a video released by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a jihadist group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in November, killed 33 Egyptian soldiers and officers. It was the worst loss of life for Egyptian military forces since the insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula kicked into high gear in the summer of 2013. The military has paid a high price in its fight against the jihadists: Over the past year, 190 Egyptian conscripts and officers have been killed in terrorist attacks. Added to the problem in the Sinai is the gathering threat from the west, as Libya implodes. In time, Egypt may very well face insurgencies on two fronts.

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