Heavy Clashes in Egypt’s North Sinai Province – Geopolitics

nsnbc : Heavy fighting erupted between Egyptian military and armed insurgents in Egypt’s North Sinai province near a checkpoint south of Sheikh Zuwayad. Egypt is increasingly being drawn into a geopolitical chess-game that it does not want to participate in.

Photo Courtesy Youm7 / The Cairo Post

Photo Courtesy Youm7 / The Cairo Post

Egyptian military spokesman Mohamed Samir told the press that heavy gun-battles and raids ensued when military forces foiled an attempt to target the checkpoint.

The ensuing shootout resulted in the death of four soldiers while eight were injured. Thirty of the alleged terrorists and attackers were killed an another ten were severely injured, reported Samir.

Subsequent to the foiled attack against the checkpoint the military raided eight farms which reportedly were used by the militants. Samir noted that these raids resulted in the destruction of several motorcycles and SUVs used by the gunmen while three military vehicles also were destroyed.

North Sinai is currently under a state of emergency, declared by President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi in October 2014. Egypt has since the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, in 2013, been confronted by insurgents in North Sinai province as well as along the northern part of its border to Libya.

The ouster of Morsi in a people-powered coup backed by the military led to the unexpected rise of a previously rather small and obscure terrorist Group named Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis (ABM). Prior to the 2013 this group mainly focused on assassination of individual police and military officers as well as on isolated bombings.

After the ouster of Morsi the ABM succeeded in integrating elements of the armed wing of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Salafist / Wahhabi militants, elements of the Muslim Brotherhood associated Palestinian Hamas and others, including elements of the Lebanese Hezbollah. In 2014 the group declared allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State and re-branded itself as fighting for a Wilayat Sinai (State of Sinai).

The Geopolitical Background.

Radical elements in Egypt’s North Sinai province have been supported by Qatar, NATO member Turkey, and in part by Israel and Saudi Arabia. Qatar is primarily aiming at maintaining its political foothold in the Palestinian Gaza Strip. Turkey is, for its part, aiming not only at supporting Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood but at a long-term NATO strategy that aims at justifying the presence of NATO troops to “protect Egypt’s Suez Canal”. The situation is being further complicated due to the increased tensions between Iran and its Gulf-Arab neighbors. An escalation of these tensions could endanger the shipping of Iraqi and Iranian and Gulf-Arab oil and gas via the narrow Hormuz Straight.

This development adds importance to the Suez Canal and the Bab Al-Mandeb Straight. Egypt’s National Security Council led by President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi decided earlier this week to prolong Egypt’s participation in the Saudi-led coalition against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Egypt’s participation in this alliance is largely limited to mitigating any possible threat to shipping in the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait.

CH/L – nsnbc 15.01.2015

Source Article from http://nsnbc.me/2016/01/15/heavy-clashes-in-egypts-north-sinai-province-geopolitics/

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