President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued Saturday a decree to form a new joint military command to fight terrorism east of the Suez Canal.
The decree was issued during a Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) meeting in which details of the deadly Thursday attacks in North Sinai were discussed. At least 30 security personnel and civilians were left dead in the attack.
“A joint command means all forces on the eastern side of the Canal will be under one authority which gives more control on the fighting units and more speed in the collecting information process,” said General Alaa Ezzeddin, former head of the army’s strategic studies unit.
He added that fast coordination between fighting units will help create a clearer security vision of the region.
“We are facing international terrorism not local even if its tools are local,” said director of the Strategic and Security Studies Centre, Alaa Bazeid.
He added that the decision to form a new military body responsible solely for counterterrorism came at the right time. He said that he believes the militant insurgency in Sinai always needed a separate entity to deal with it, “as the threat to Egypt comes mainly from the eastern front”.
In a detailed Friday statement, the ‘State of Sinai’ militant group, formerly known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for the attacks, which targeted military and interior ministry facilities in Al-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah.
The group’s statement said “hundreds” were killed in the attacks, a claim refuted by a representative from the military spokesman’s press office who said “the numbers will not be announced”. However, he said the figures reported by media outlets, between 20 and 30, are closer to actual figures.
“Intensifying preemptive attacks and improving the attacking tactics” will be the main development to the army’s operation in Sinai, according to Bazied.
He also added that “informative nature of the war against terrorism makes it essential to develop the intelligence side of our operations”.