Armed Forces launches sweeping Sinai offensive
The Armed Forces launched a “far-reaching” combined arms offensive on Friday, dubbed “Operation Comprehensive Sinai 2018,” deploying troops and security forces throughout the Sinai, spokesperson of the Armed Forces Col. Tamer El Rifai announced in a televised statement (watch, runtime 2:39).
The operation, which also includes the police service and coast guard, also reaches into areas of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert to tackle the inflow of arms and militant coming from Egypt’s borders with Libya, said El Rifai. Security sources told Reuters on Thursday that the operation, which had been in planning for some time, was unprecedented in its scope, coordination, and size, involving thousands of troops, but did not provide further details.
The operation comes as President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s end-February deadline for the Armed Forces to clear the Sinai of terrorism approaches. El Sisi had set the deadline following an attack on Sufi El Rawda Mosque in North Sinai, which was the largest terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history.
Story dominates narrative on Egypt in the international press: Analysis of the story by the foreign press appears to focus on the timing of the operation, coming as it does a month before the elections. “Military successes against the armed groups would bolster his standing and help energise turnout in what could be a lackluster election due to the absence of competition,” Heba Saleh writes for the Financial Times. “Analysts have said the president considers his anti-terrorism stance has won him enough U.S. support to let him dispense with the pretense of a democratic election,” according to Bloomberg. The Washington Post, the Guardian and the Wall Street Journal also have coverage.