Egypt has stepped up its war on terror in recent months, not only in dealing with an escalating jihadist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, but also calling for closer cooperation between allies to combat terrorism in the region as a whole.
Following a spate of deadly attacks in North Sinai – the area of Egypt bordering Gaza – the government has made a defiant response to the threat posed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the ISIS-backed militant group who claim responsibility for the violence.
Aside from bringing a high level of military presence, the army has also created a ‘buffer zone’ along the border, resulting in the destruction of some 2,000 contraband tunnels between Sinai and Gaza and the capture or killing of hundreds of terrorists.
Egypt has also sought regional support from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait towards combating the militants, with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi proposing the formation of a joint Arab anti-terror force. The proposal has been welcomed by Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi, who said it may be a key issue on the agenda of an Arab Summit in Cairo on March 28th.
With Egypt steadily finding its feet again after three years of political turmoil, President Al-Sisi’s government is now looking to regain its traditional stabilizing role in the Middle East as one of the region’s major economic and military powers. The country likewise looks to revitalize its strong alliance with the U.S. in the coming months as Egypt joins the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.
Egypt has a strong track record of tackling terrorism and has undoubtedly been a reliable ally in the global war on terror in terms of intelligence sharing, investigations and interrogations. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also recently emphasized Egypt’s role as an ideological opponent to Islamic extremism by calling the country “an intellectual and cultural capital of the Muslim World.”
Besides increased cooperation with the U.S. and the leading role Egypt is taking in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, the country hopes that its return to political and economic stability can help alleviate the country’s security situation.