Attack on Egyptian Troops in Sinai

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

Jess Diez
Managing Editor & Research Associate, Middle East Policy Council

May 10, 2022

On Saturday, May 7, eleven Egyptian soldiers were killed attempting to prevent an attack on the Suez Canal zone adjacent to the Sinai Peninsula. Five Egyptian soldiers were also wounded in an attack on the eastern side of the Sinai bank of the canal. This attack marks the heaviest loss the Egyptian army has suffered in multiple years in its long-running campaign in and around the Sinai against militants faithful to ISIS.

Armed insurgency has been prevalent in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula for over a decade, climaxing after the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. According to Al Arabiya, in February 2018, the army and police launched a nationwide operation against militants focused on North Sinai. More than a thousand suspected militants and dozens of security personnel have been killed since the start of operations, according to official figures…In recent years, pipelines carrying Egyptian oil and gas to neighboring Israel and Jordan have been the primary focus of insurgent attacks.”

Following the 2018 military expanded control over the Peninsula, there has been a slow positive return of various civilian activity and infrastructure development.This is the first attack of this size near the Sinai Peninsula in 2022. The same evening of Saturday’s attack, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi offered his condolences to the families of the victims while also wishing a quick recovery to those who were injured. El-Sisi assured that “the loyal sons of the nation are still responding to its call with courage and sacrifice, continuing in a unique self-denial and a belief in protecting the nation that will not be shaken…Those treacherous terrorist operations will not undermine the determination of the sons of this nation and its Armed Forces in uprooting terrorism completely.”

Various Arab countries gave their condolences to Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly. According to Ahmedabad Mirror, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the attack and gave his condolences via a phone call with Madbouly. Mikati said: “We condemn this terrorist act that targeted brotherly Egypt, its security and stability. We express our sympathy with the people of Egypt and the families of the victims in this ordeal. We are confident that Egypt, under the leadership of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, is able to confront all dangers firmly and restore its prosperity.” 

Buoyed by shared interests and certain regional threat perceptions, Saudi Arabia and Egypt respect each other economically and militarily. Thus, Saudi Arabia has also denounced the attack. Saudi Gazette stated: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has affirmed the Kingdom’s full support for Egypt towards dealing with all threats to its security and stability, in addition to its appreciation for the role of the Egyptian Armed Forces in confronting such terrorist and sabotage acts.”

Similarly,  Jordan’s King Abdullah II expressed the his full solidarity with Egypt in the fight against terrorist attacks and terrorism at large. Middle East Monitor cited an Egyptian government spokesperson: “His Majesty the King of Jordan expressed, during the call, sincere condolences to the president and the Egyptian people for the armed forces martyrs who were martyred as a result of the treacherous terrorist attack that took place in western Sinai…[This] reflects the strength of the historical ties between the two countries.”

Following the weekend of condolences from various neighboring countries, el-Sisi expressed hopes for deeper US aid regarding counter-terrorism during talks in Cairo with U.S. Army General Michael Kurilla on Monday, May 9. Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, said after meeting with el-Sisi that the attack truly underscored the constant threats from extremists and that this challenge required collective efforts to tackle it. However, Kurilla’s visit marks less than four months since the administration of U.S. President Biden announced due to human rights concerns, the U.S. is cutting $130 million in military aid to Egypt. According to Al Arabiya, “the rare US censure of a geostrategic ally that controls the Suez Canal followed Egypt’s failure to address specific human rights-related conditions, which have never been publicly detailed by Washington. Activists have said those US conditions included the release of people seen as political prisoners. US officials have said the American relationship with Egypt is complex. The most-populous Arab country is a vital ally and key voice in the Arab world. US military officials have long stressed Egypt’s role expediting the passage of US warships through the Suez Canal and granting overflight for American military aircraft.”

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

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