Assessing Egyptian Public Support for Security Crackdowns in the Sinai

  • February 01, 2015
  • Mr Gregory Aftandilian



This monograph examines the terrorist groups in Egypt emanating from the Sinai and assesses the level of Egyptian public support for the government's security crackdown. These terrorist groups have not only targeted Egyptian security personnel and foreign tourists in the Sinai Peninsula but have attacked government installations and personnel in the Egyptian mainland. Because most Egyptians desire stability, want terrorism to end, and want their moribund economy to grow, and because they have few family ties to the Bedouin inhabitants of the Sinai, they have given the government wide berth to carry out a heavy-handed crackdown there. However, some of Egypt's draconian security policies (such as punishing whole Bedouin villages) can be counterproductive, often making more terrorist recruits out of disaffected Bedouin youth than would otherwise be the case. The monograph recommends enhanced U.S. counterterrorism assistance to the Egyptian military, with specialized courses for Egyptian military officers attending professional military education institutions in the United States and the training of whole Egyptian counterterrorism units either in the United States or in a friendly Arab country. The monograph also recommends the resumption of a U.S.-Egyptian strategic dialogue, to include U.S. Army officers and their Egyptian counterparts, where effective counterterrorism policies can be discussed frankly in a closed-door setting. In addition, the monograph advocates for new and enhanced social and economic policies in the Sinai that would aim to dissuade Beduion youth from assisting and joining the terrorist groups. These policies would involve recruiting properly vetted Bedouin youth into the local police forces, and a major jobs training program, with U.S. financial and administrative support, for these youth to prepare them for eventual employment in tourism and other legitimate economic sectors.