Libya intervention will heighten Egypt security risks

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Significance

The government faces three security challenges: an intensifying jihadist insurgency in North Sinai; a persistent campaign of sabotage from Muslim Brotherhood-connected underground groups in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and parts of Middle Egypt; and the rise of the Islamic State group (ISG) across the Libyan border. The most serious recent incidents have been simultaneous assaults on multiple targets in Sinai by ISG-affiliated insurgents on January 29, and Egyptian air raids on ISG targets in Libya on February 16 following ISG's execution of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya.

Impacts

  • The rising terrorist threat will help Sisi justify crackdowns on protest and dissent more widely.
  • Egypt can sustain airstrikes in Libya, but any ground intervention would degrade Egypt's military's effectiveness rapidly.
  • The United States will be more likely to increase military aid, including F-16 fighter planes.
  • Redeployment of forces to reinforce Libyan border and major cities will reduce the pressure on Sinai militants.
  • High-profile attacks are likely to dampen a recovery in tourism and investment.
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