Egypt’s dictator General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi promised to respond with “brute force” after an appalling terror attack on a mosque last Friday killed at least 305 people.
The Egyptian military said it had carried out airstrikes on “terrorist targets” in the Sinai area in north east Egypt where the attack took place. The Egyptian regime has been fighting an insurgency in Sinai since 2013.
Islamist group Wilayat al-Sinai—an affiliate of Isis—was widely blamed for the attack, but hadn’t claimed responsibility as Socialist Worker went to press.
Militant groups in Sinai have waged an insurgency against the Egyptian government since the Egyptian revolution overthrew dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The insurgency has support from sections of Sinai’s Bedouin population left impoverished by regime policies. El-Sisi increased repressive measures in Sinai after overthrowing Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi as part of the counter-revolution.
The horror of the Sinai attack reflects the regime’s brutality—and Sisi is ultimately responsible.
One woman in Sinai said last week, “The military will keep jailing and killing local young people. The terrorists who hate both us and the Christians will keep using it as an excuse to kill us.”
Yet Sisi will use the attack to further increase repression—and possibly to strengthen ties with Israel. Israel has supported the counter-insurgency, reportedly carrying out drone strikes in Sinai.
The attack could also be used to increase pressure on Palestinian resistance group Hamas.
Israel and some Arab states, led by regional giant Saudi Arabia, are also waging a campaign to isolate Iran. Saudi Arabia hosted a summit on Sunday, launching a “counter-terrorism alliance”.
The summit excluded Iran and its allies, and its targets appeared to be militant groups supported by Iran such as Hamas. A video launching the summit used footage of Palestinian fighters during the second Intifada—or “uprising”—against Israel to depict terrorism.
Saudi Arabia is also behind recent attempts to marginalise Hizbollah in Lebanon.
Lebanese president Saad Hariri was apparently forced to resign by Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. But he has unexpectedly “suspended” his resignation after Hizbollah called for his return and led condemnations of Saudi Arabia.