Upcoming Egyptian Election Sparks I.S. Assault
Egypt’s presidential elections will be held between the 26th and 28th of March 2018. On January 19th, 2018, incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi formally announced that he would run for a second and final term. In the lead up to the election, supporters of candidates Sami Hafez Anan and Khaled Ali have faced difficulties in registering pledges. Moreover, at the end of January, the Civil Democratic Movement announced that it will boycott the vote.
Most recently, Egypt launched a major assault against Islamic State militants on the Sinai Peninsula. The government’s goal is to crush this insurgency by the end of February—a deadline set by President al-Sisi. The campaign was conducted by the army, navy, air force, border patrol, and police, and residents reported witnessing warplanes flying above the Suez Canal city is Ismailia. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, northeast of the desert region, reported heading explosions from across the border. However, there has not been any immediate word on casualties.
Analysts speculate that this final push is an attempt by President al-Sisi to gain support in the upcoming election, which he is expected to win by a wide margin. Though the success or failure of thi push will not likely affect the March election, Sisi is working to secure his win by several points.
Security sources have reported that this assault had been planned for some time but that its scope, coordination, and size was unexpected. Currently, the Suez Canal is operating normally. All schools in North Sinai have been ordered shut until further notice.