Why Israeli Fighter Jets Aren’t Enough to Solve Egypt's ISIS Problem

While ISIS has lost nearly all the territory it held in Iraq and Syria, the group’s much smaller affiliate in Sinai is still going strong — despite Israeli airstrikes

Anshel Pfeffer
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Anshel Pfeffer

Since it signed the Camp David accords in 1979, Egypt has been receiving American military assistance and has totally upgraded its inventory from Soviet weapons systems to hardware Made in the USA. It’s front-line squadrons field F-16C/D bloc 52 fighter jets and AH-64D Apache attack helicopters – similar models to those used by Israel’s air force. With the largest army in the Arab world, you would have expected Egypt to be capable of handling an insurrection in northern Sinai which by all accounts numbers no more than 1,000 fighters. But as an unending series of attacks on both civilian and military targets in the peninsula have proven, the Egyptian army is at the best “containing” Wilayat Sinai, the local branch of ISIS, but still far from mopping it up. While ISIS has lost nearly all of the vast territory it held only two years ago in Iraq and Syria, where its main forces have been decimated, the group’s much smaller affiliate in Egypt’s backyard is still going strong.

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