Sinai insurgency

Sinai insurgency (2011–present)
Part of the Arab Winter, the Egyptian Crisis, and the Insurgency in Egypt (2013–present)
Map of the Sinai Peninsula.
(For a more detailed map of the current military situation in Sinai, see here.)
Date5 February 2011[16] – present
(7 years, 4 months, 1 week and 6 days)
LocationSinai Peninsula, Egypt


Flag of Jihad.svg Islamists:

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant[14] (from 2014)

Commanders and leaders

Egypt Sedki Sobhi
Egypt Mohammed el-Shahat
Egypt Osama Askar
Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
Egypt Ahmed Wasfi
Egypt Hussein Tantawi

Egypt Sami Anan

Flag of Jihad.svg Muhammad al-Zawahiri (POW)[17]
Flag of Jihad.svg Abd El-Fattah Salem (POW)[9]
Flag of Jihad.svg Fayez Abu-Sheta [18]
Flag of Jihad.svg Youssif Abo-Ayat [19]
Flag of Jihad.svg Saed Abo-Farih [19]

Abu Osama al-Masri (ISIL Emir of Wilayat Sinai)[20]

Shadi el-Manaei
Selim Suleiman Al-Haram [21][22]
Total: 25,000 (41 battalions)[23]

Total: ~12,000[24]

ISIL: 1,000–1,500
Casualties and losses
500–1000 killed[25][26]1,100–2,000+ killed
Civilian casualties: 500+ Egyptian, 219 Russians, 4 Ukrainians, 1 Belarusian, 6 Israeli, 4 South Korean, 1 Croatian
Yamam: 2 killed
IDF: 1 killed
Total: 2,371–4,735+ killed

The Sinai insurgency is an ongoing conflict in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, between Islamist militants and Egyptian security forces, which has included attacks on civilians.[30] The insurgency began after the start of the Egyptian Crisis, which saw the overthrow of longtime Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian revolution of 2011.[31]

The Sinai insurgency initially consisted of militants, largely composed of local Bedouin tribesmen, who exploited the chaotic situation in Egypt and weakened central authority to launch a series of attacks on government forces in Sinai. In 2014, elements of the Ansar Bait al-Maqdis group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and proclaimed themselves Sinai Province, and a part of ISIL. Security officials say militants based in Libya have established ties with the Sinai Province group[32] and have blamed the porous border and ongoing civil war for the increase in sophisticated weapons available to the Islamist groups.[33]

The Egyptian authorities have attempted to restore their presence in the Sinai through both political and military measures.[34] Egypt launched two military operations, known as Operation Eagle in mid-2011 and then Operation Sinai in mid-2012. In May 2013, following an abduction of Egyptian officers, violence in the Sinai surged once again. Following the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état, which resulted in the ousting of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, "unprecedented clashes" have occurred.[35]

The fallout suffered by the locals as a result of the insurgency in Sinai ranges from militant operations and the state of insecurity to extensive military operations and the demolishing of hundreds of homes and evacuating thousands of residents as Egyptian troops pressed on to build a buffer zone meant to halt the smuggling of weapons and militants from and to the Gaza strip. A report, compiled by a delegation from the state-funded National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), stated that most of the displaced families share the same grievances of palpable government negligence, unavailability of nearby schools for their sons and the lack of health services.[36] Since the start of the conflict, dozens of civilians were killed either in military operations or kidnapped and then beheaded by militants. In November 2017, more than 300 Sufist worshippers were killed and over 100 injured in an attack on a mosque west of the city of Al-Arish.[30]


Sufism was previously dominant in the region before militant jihadi ideas began to take hold.[37] The Sinai peninsula has long been known for its lawlessness, having historically served as a smuggling route for weapons and supplies. Security provisions in the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty of 1979 have institutionalized a diminished security presence in the area, enabling militants to operate with a freer hand. Moreover, the limited government-directed investment and development in Sinai has discriminated against the local Bedouin population, a population that values tribal allegiance over all else. The combination of Sinai's harsh terrain and lack of resources have kept the area poor and hence ripe for militancy.[38]

Following the January 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak's regime, the country became increasingly destabilized, creating a security vacuum in the Sinai peninsula. Radical Islamic elements in Sinai exploited the opportunity, using the unique environment, in launching several waves of attacks upon Egyptian military and commercial facilities.

According to The Economist, the conflict also involves local armed Bedouin "who have long-standing grievances against the central government in Cairo" and that "they are barred from joining the army or police; they find it hard to get jobs in tourism; and they complain that many of their lands have been taken from them".[6]