Challenges that faced President Sisi during his first term



Thu, 11 Jan 2018 - 01:33 GMT


Thu, 11 Jan 2018 - 01:33 GMT

FILE – President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi

FILE – President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi

CAIRO – 11 January 2018: Since President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi took office in 2014, Egypt has faced many challenges, especially in dealing with the Islamic insurgency. Egypt Today looks back on these challenges and how they had been tackled.

In 2015, a video emerged showing the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians who were kidnapped by the Islamic State (IS) in December 2014, in the coastal town of Sirte in eastern Libya.

Responding to that, Egypt’s Air Force bombed the Islamic State targets in Libya on February 16, 2015, a day after the video was released, in retaliation for the Egyptian Christians that were killed.

Public prosecutor Hisham Barakat, who had sent many Islamists to trial since the overthrow of former President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, was assassinated in a car bomb attack in June 2015.

Since then, the security forces were able to identify those who were involved in the attack, and on July 22, 2017, Cairo Criminal Court sentenced 28 convicted individuals that were involved in Barakat’s assassination to death.

On October 31, 2015, IS downed a Russian passenger plane, killing 224 passengers and the crew on board. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.

After the attack, Russia has suspended its flights to Egypt for two years. However, after long negotiations, Egypt signed a deal with Russia on December 15, 2017, to resume the flights between the two states starting from February 2018.

Sisi has faced two assassination attempts; one while he was on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2014 and the other in Cairo. The plot in Saudi Arabia was planned by two workers in the famous Clock Tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The second attempt was planned by a seven member cell, including six police officers who were sacked over their Islamic allegiance. In this regard, 292 jihadist suspects were arrested in 2016.

Furthermore, during a Palm Sunday service on April 9, Tanta’s St. George Church was attacked, killing at least 27 and wounding 78 others due to an explosive device that was planted under a seat in the main prayer hall.

Women pass by the Coptic church that was bombed on Sunday in Tanta, Egypt, April 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

At the same time, a suicide bomber attacked St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria where Pope Tawadros II held the Palm Sunday mass. Two police officers who were guarding the church stopped a man wearing an explosive belt. The police officers, a man and a woman, were killed along with civilians and other police staff.

People watch as the coffins of victims arrive to the Coptic church that was bombed on Sunday, in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Responding to these attacks and attempting to uproot terrorism in Egypt, President Sisi declared a three-month state of emergency.

The country also formed a Supreme Council to counter terrorism and extremism in July 2017. A month after the Tanta and Alexandria tragedy, another terrorist attack took place on May 26 when three vehicles blocked the way of Christians heading to St. Samuel the Confessor Monastery in Maghagha, and opened fire.

In response to that attack, the Egyptian military launched airstrikes against militant training facilities in Libya.

Another attack against a worship place in Egypt was the Al-Rawdah mosque attack. According to eyewitnesses, the 30 terrorists arrived in all-terrain vehicles, which they ditched 150 meters away from the mosque. They then set off a bomb in the vicinity of the mosque, and opened fire inside and outside the mosque. The attackers gunned down the trapped worshipers in a horrific 20 minute massacre. They also targeted ambulances at the crime scene and set nearby cars ablaze.

People stand outside Al Rawdah mosque, where a bomb exploded, in Bir Al-Abed, Egypt November 25, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Soliman

An interior view of Al Rawdah mosque is seen after an explosion, in Bir Al-Abed, Egypt November 25, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Soliman

A few hours later, the Egyptian Air Force launched airstrikes, targeting terrorist hideouts in mountain areas near Arish. The operation destroyed a number of pickups used in the attack and killed the terrorists on board.

Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayeb (C) prays next to Police General Nabil Farag's son (front row, head bowed) during Farag's military funeral service at Al-Rashdan Mosque in Cairo's Nasr City district September 20, 2013- Reuters



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