Even before they finished the coup d’etat in early July, Egypt’s military began massing troops in the Sinai Peninsula, planning a huge offensive against Islamist factions there. The day of the coup was also the day those offensives began, and six months in, they’ve been an unmitigated disaster.
Far from crushing a few rag-tag factions of “sympathizers” of the ousted civilian government, the junta has found in Sinai a growing al-Qaeda-styled organization that is not only fighting back against the offensive, but launching retaliatory strikes on government buildings in Cairo itself.
The Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group has claimed credit for a number of high-profile bombings in Cairo, and promises more in the future, saying in a particularly ominous message that “vengeance is coming.”
The group was never particularly fond of the Morsi government, but used their ouster as vindication for their position that ending military rule in Egypt was not going to be possible through democracy. Now committed to violence like never before, the group was a hornet’s nest the junta was only too willing to kick.