Egypt may be close to defeating the ISIS branch in the Sinai desert, and that could have far-ranging ripples for the Western world’s fight against the Islamist terrorists. I discussed this a few minutes ago with host P.J. Maloney on KQV Radio in Pittsburgh.
The Egyptian military has been engaging the ISIS branch in Sinai, called Waliyat al-Sinai, for two years. Hundreds have been killed on all sides–militants, soldiers and civilians. There are signs that Egypt is about to win the battle, eliminating the ISIS branch as a military force. The question then will be whether without its base in Sinai, it will be able to carry out terror attacks inside Egypt proper.
That’s a vitally important question for the rest of the world. If ISIS can be defeated militarily by a local power, and that strips it of its ability to carry out terror attacks, that could set a pattern for dealing with ISIS elsewhere–if we just pay attention. Israel is helping Egypt a bit, since the Sinai borders Israel, but this is an Egyptian campaign. If it succeeds, we need to note that. Conversely, if it fails–if a military victory does not eliminate the ISIS ability to carry out terror attacks–we need to note that, too.
My guess is that there won’t be a clear-cut answer. There’s no such thing as total victory in today’s world. The clearest result will be the post-op analysis of how effective the campaign has been as opposed to how costly it’s been.
The main element to keep an eye on, though, is the fact that this is a case of a regional power engaging ISIS on its own, without foreign military intervention. If that works, it needs to be repeated elsewhere–because it’s clear to me that the answer to ISIS must come from the region, not the external powers and their forces.