Egypt’s military will defeat terrorism

By Adel El-Adawy, Founder & Executive Director of CCAS


The last couple of years have seriously challenged the stagnant political order of the Middle East. We have all witnessed the enormous political transformations across the region, with the drastic consequences on the entire global community. The Middle East is in a state of chaos with ongoing civil wars, collapse of Arab states, and the spread of terrorism. Amid all the regional havoc, the Egyptian military has been at the forefront in its fight against the sweeping wave of heinous violence and acts of terrorism. This situation leaves two theoretical scenarios, either the terrorist or the Egyptian military will emerge victorious. The latter being the only acceptable and certain outcome: Egypt’s military will defeat terrorism.

However, the fight and elimination of terrorism in Egypt with the ever-growing global terrorist networks will be challenging, it may take time, and cannot be achieved alone by the Egyptian military. This is why the two recent initiatives by President Abdel Fatah Elsisi are so important and ought to galvanize the support of the entire international community: First, the call for Muslim religious leaders to rhetorically combat the evil man-made ideology, and second, the creation of a joint Arab military force to defend the region against terrorism. The Egyptian government is determined to tackle the problem of terrorism head on and at any cost. Although, hundreds of security officials have been killed by terrible acts of terror, it has not deterred the Egyptian Armed Forces’ determination or mission to reestablish regional order.

The Egyptian military has encountered one of its biggest challenges in northern Sinai. Many years of neglect and lack of development of the Sinai Peninsula helped it become a terrorist stronghold. But, the three post-Mubarak years, especially during the time of the Muslim Brotherhood in power, Sinai became lawless and a terrorist-haven with almost 20 different terrorist networks operating on the ground. During the short tenure of Mohamed Morsi, the Brotherhood directly colluded with militants and prevented the Egyptian military from confronting those militants’ exacerbating the regional terrorism threat configuration. Therefore, it is vital not only to crush the Brotherhood in Egypt, but also to dismantle the international infrastructure of the Muslim Brotherhood from London to Munich, and from Istanbul to Kuala Lumpur to be able to successfully weaken the well-financed global terrorism networks.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the mother organization of all terrorism, has continued to encourage and engage in many acts of terror against the Egyptian military and police to advance its extremist agenda. The support from Turkey and Qatar has helped the Brotherhood to continue to provide logistical and financial support to many other terrorist organizations in Egypt as proxies for their goals. The most dominant group has been Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) who last year announced their oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and changed their name to the “State of Sinai.” However, major military operations in Sinai after the June 30 Revolution against the Brotherhood have turned the tide against the various terrorist organizations operating on the peninsula. Three months ago, even one of the leading commanders of ABM admitted in a Reuters special report that the military had successfully crackdown on the organization. In fact, since the election of President Abdel Fatah Elsisi, the Egyptian army has been able to curtail the terrorism threats originating from Sinai, allowing for Egypt to host two important and successful gatherings this spring in Sinai: the international economic development conference and the annual Arab League summit. This demonstrates the ever-growing security grip over the peninsula and the positive trajectory of the current Egyptian leadership towards the threats originating from Sinai.

Another worrisome danger for the Egyptian government has been the collapse of the Libyan state and the consequent security vacuum that facilitated the growth of terrorist networks at the western border of Egypt. The international community succeeded in overthrowing Libya’s strongman Gaddafi, but quickly left ushering an era of lawlessness in Libya and allowed an enormous amount of arms to be smuggled into Egypt. The growth of many Al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates in Libya have turned it into the next major jihadist frontier with further disastrous consequences on regional stability. We have already seen ISIS’s barbaric execution of 21 Egyptian workers that forced the Egyptian military to quickly retaliate with major air strike blows. The Libyan situation continues to pose a significant threat, one that the Egyptian military is taking serious and ready to confront.

The Egyptian government is at the forefront in its paramount fight against terrorism, which makes it essential for all allies to provide indispensable support to the Egyptian military. Although, the Egyptian leadership adopted a comprehensive multifaceted counter-terrorism strategy, the “War on Terror” requires a global effort that does not exclusively focus on one group, but rather takes the broad view of incorporating the complex, worldwide terrorism infrastructure. Together, the international community can successfully tackle the transnational threats posed by terrorist groups and its affiliates in a volatile world.

This article was published by The Hill.