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Sinai's Stubborn Insurgency

Why Egypt Can't Win

An Egyptian military helicopter flies over debris from a Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, November 1, 2015. Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

“Don’t send reinforcements to Sinai,” Kamal Allam, the military commander of Wilayat Sinai, or Sinai Province (SP), taunted Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. “Send your whole army. It will die here in desert.” Allam’s video message came in April 2015 after a complex attack on seven military and security targets. Two months later, SP was able to launch an even more complicated operation. In July that year, it simultaneously attacked 15 military and security targets and briefly occupied the town of Sheikh Zuweid. During the fighting, around 300 militants were able to cut off certain posts from incoming Egyptian reinforcements. As ever, the number of dead army soldiers and officers is contested. The Egyptian military claimed 17; unofficial sources claimed over 100.

The July episode might have been the most spectacular, but it was far from the last. Throughout the rest of 2014 and early 2015, SP conducted well over 200 attacks And as recently as

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