Egyptian Militants Giving Army Fits in Sinai Peninsula

The army in Egypt said it was crushing Islamist militants on the Sinai Peninsula. However, in the villages and small towns in the region victory seems a long way away.

In villages in northern Sinai, there is widespread destruction due to operations carried about by the Egyptian army. There is also evidence that a couple of hundred militants have successfully played cat and mouse with the Arab world’s largest army and are not close to being defeated.

Residents in these villages in the northern Sinai said a mix of disgruntled youth, Egyptian Islamists and foreign fighters have taken control of close to one third of said villages and now are taking the fight nearer to Cairo.

One villager said that the army controlled the main roads, but could not enter many of the villages, only attacking them by helicopter. Even when the armed personnel vehicles of the army enter the villages, they cannot arrest the militants who know the place better, said another villager.

The fight versus the militants of Islam is a huge test for the current interim government of Egypt. The militants based in Sinai increased attacks on soldiers and police last year, shortly after the army toppled Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist President of Egypt on July 3.

The violence since then has killed 300 people and hurt the economy across the nation. The economy never was able to recover from the turmoil started by the “Arab Spring” that began in 2011, when Hosni Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising.

The government and army said they were beating the militants. Authorities in Egypt, in an attempt to stop the flow of illegal arms have destroyed tunnels that ran between the borders of the Gaza Strip and Egypt, which borders the northern Sinai.

Nearly each night Apache helicopters have fired rockets at hideouts of Islamist militants in farms and houses located in the nearly lawless peninsula in an area of 24,000 square miles wedged between Gaza and Israel to the east and the Suez Canal to the west.

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