The conflict in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula is growing worse a month after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria called on terrorist allies in the desert region to escalate attacks on soldiers and civilians and “cut off their heads.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi faces the daunting challenge of bringing an end to the terrorist menace haunting the most populous nation in the Middle East. The radical Islamists in the Sinai are also complicating Israeli and Egyptian attempts to secure the borders of the Gaza Strip.
The growing cooperation between ISIS and the Sinai terrorist group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, is likely to impede Sisi’s ambitions to rebuild Egypt. While the political pendulum has swung back in the military’s favor, rising violence in the Sinai poses a major danger to the government’s credibility and the country’s economic recovery.
The violence has further deterred tourism to Egypt, which has hampered the country’s desperate efforts to revive the vital industry. Tourism revenues in the first half of this year were down a stunning 25 percent over 2013, despite the lack of political unrest and an improving security situation in cities along the Nile River.