Publication: Armed Conflict Survey 2016
05 May 2016
As President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi strengthened his control of Egypt throughout 2015, the security situation in the country deteriorated significantly. Wilayat Sina (Sinai Province), an insurgent group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) in November 2014, posed a severe security threat, launching deadly attacks and challenging the security forces’ tenuous control over Sinai. Egypt concurrently faced a medium-level insurgency led by radicalised individuals linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. The complex security environment was used by the Sisi-led government as a pretext for restricting space for political participation. Many of the government’s policies, however, appeared to be slowly generating discontent and undermining the president’s support base.
Escalation in Sinai
Formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM), Sinai Province evolved into the main non-state armed group active in the Sinai Peninsula after it subsumed smaller takfiri groups (a takfiri, in this context, is an extremist who accuses other Muslims of apostasy and engages in armed activity). Since Sisi’s rise to power, in July 2013, Sinai Province has targeted the security forces with renewed vigour in northeastern and central Sinai, and in 2015 it expanded its capacity to launch increasingly complex attacks, including those outside its traditional area of operation.