Egyptian Army's helicopters are seen during a launch of a major assault against militants, Egypt, in this undated handout picture made available by the Ministry of Defense February 9, 2018. Ministry of Defense/Handout via REUTERS
CAIRO – 10 February 2018: Egypt launched a large-scale security operation early Friday morning, involving land, sea and air forces, in various areas across Egypt, including North Sinai, the Western Desert and the Nile Delta region. “The comprehensive security operation Sinai 2018 is targeting terrorist and criminal elements and organizations,” said army spokesman Col. Tamer el-Rifaai in a televised statement on Friday.
Security experts believed that the timing of the current security operation is “perfect” because it must be preceded by different operations on intelligence and security levels. As an anticipated response, Egypt’s allies praised the security operation against terrorism, but anti-terror supporters see that Egypt is pretty late in taking the decision of launching a war against terrorist hotbeds.
Egypt has been struggling for years to contain terrorist activities in Sinai. Many military operations have been carried out by army and police forces, killing hundreds of militants and building a buffer zone along the border with Gaza, so that the Egyptian authorities can curb the flow of militants and weapons infiltrating through underground tunnels.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi authorized the army chief of staff to use “all brute force” against terrorism, and he gave security forces a three-month deadline to restore stability to North Sinai.
Operation Sinai 2018 timing depends on availability of security database
“The determination of any military operation mainly counts on completing intelligence databases needed to launch such massive security operations,” said military expert Brigadier-General Medhat Awwad to Egypt Today on Saturday.
Awwad denounced foreign media reports that have criticized the Sinai 2018 security operation launched on Friday by Egypt’s military and police forces to purge Sinai and various districts across the nation from terrorism.
“The outside world isn’t aware of the domestic circumstances that control the security operation’s dimensions,” Awwad added.
He stressed that criticizing the security operation only “aims to undermine the Egyptian role through the spread of rumors and negative news.”
The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group and Hasm movement issued press releases in the evening of Friday accusing the Egyptian security forces of “displacing Sinai’s inhabitants” and killing innocents.
Awwad revealed that MB and Hasm are groups of mercenaries that seek to ruin the Egyptian state’s pillars, most notably the armed forces and police, adding, “Sinai’s inhabitants have been cooperating with our security forces to purge the peninsula from terrorist hotbeds, which have threatened their cities and villages in the past years.”
Sinai 2018 a definite outcome of successful military rounds
The ongoing Sinai 2018 security operation has been a definite outcome of military endeavors and investigations that have been taken since 2013, Egypt’s presidential spokesperson Bassam Radi stressed in televised statements on Friday.
Following the Al-Rawdah terrorist attack on November 24, 2017, which claimed the lives of at least 311 people – roughly 22 percent of male residents of Al-Rawdah village in Sinai – both military and police forces have intensified their security operations against terrorist hotbeds.
“President Sisi has affirmed that the upcoming period will witness a comprehensive confrontation to purge Sinai Peninsula from terrorism,” Radi added.
He added that the ongoing security operation is a normal “outcome that succeeds several successful operations and strikes launched by police and military forces since 2013.”
Radi’s statements are seen as a response to critical reactions from foreign parties that claimed the Egyptian security operation in Sinai has taken a long time to be launched.
Sisi tweeted that he is proud to follow up on the military operations that were announced by the army and the police on Friday.
“I proudly follow up on the heroic acts of my sons in the armed forces and the police to purge the land of precious Egypt from terrorist elements who are enemies of life ... And always #LongLiveEgypt,” Sisi stated on his official Twitter account on Friday.