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Egypt's Failed War on Terror

Why Cairo Is Dragging Its Feet on ISIS

An Egyptian military vehicle on a highway in northern Sinai, May 2015. Asmaa Waguih / Reuters

Earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump hosted his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, at the White House. At their meeting, Trump assured Sisi that “together… we will fight terrorism.” That is good news for the Egyptian president. After years of strained bilateral relations, the Trump administration is embracing Egypt as a counterterrorism partner. But it is unclear that Egypt is actually an asset in the most pressing battle against terrorism, the fight against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS).

A video that surfaced two weeks ago highlights the problem. It aired on a Muslim Brotherhood network and showed Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula summarily executing a handful of alleged Islamist insurgent prisoners. Beyond what appear to be significant human rights abuses, to date Cairo has demonstrated a stunning lack of will and competence to eradicate ISIS from Egyptian territory. If the Trump administration wants a partner,

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