Sisi Criticized Over Brute Force Strategy in Sinai

Sisi Criticized Over Brute Force Strategy in SinaiSisi Criticized Over Brute Force Strategy in Sinai

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gave his security forces a three-month deadline to restore “security and stability” to the country’s northern Sinai Province, but experts say his strategy has already caused more damage to the region and its residents.

After the latest string of attacks, Sisi in a TV speech Wednesday reiterated his pledge to restore security, saying his government would use “brute force” against armed groups in the area, Al Jazeera reported.

On November 24, more than 305 people were killed in a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in Bir al-Abed, a small town in Sinai.

In response, the Egyptian military launched air attacks on targets in mountainous areas surrounding Bir al-Abed hours after the attack.

Sinai researcher and writer Mohannad Sabry said that signs of Sisi’s “brute force” strategy already began to appear last week, when police and military forces began raiding the villages and residential clusters near the site of the attack.

“Locals have estimated that such raids detained dozens of people, mainly displaced over the past years from the areas of Sheikh Zuwayyed and Rafah,” he told Al Jazeera.

According to Sabry, the detainees included several people who were leading a community effort to collect donations for the victims of the latest attack.

The Sinai Peninsula, a volatile desert region, is split into two governorates —north and south— and has been a hotbed for various armed groups.

“If Sisi’s pledge means intensifying the use of brute force, then we are certainly anticipating much more losses, higher levels of oppression and more losses and harm inflicted on the community,” Sabry said.

The mosque in Bir al-Abed was frequented by Sufi Muslims, a sect of Islam perceived as “impure” by groups affiliated with the self-styled Islamic State terrorist groups.

Although no one claimed responsibility for the recent attack, local affiliates of IS have claimed other attacks in the last few years. Previous attacks in Sinai have mostly targeted security forces and members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, but mosques in North Sinai’s Sheikh Zuweid town have also been attacked.

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