Egypt’s Sanai tribesmen pledge to fight extremists

By Desmond Kokim
Posted on Monday, 11 May 2015 09:02

The Sinai Tribal Federation (STF) said it had held its first meeting on Sunday to discuss ways to tackle militants seeking to topple the United States-backed Cairo government.

“STF will work in coordination with the relevant agencies and institutions of the formal state [Egypt] … to support the state and the armed forces in their war against terrorism,” an STF statement read in part.

About 30 Egyptian tribes based in Sanai pledged to confront the insecurity posed by militant groups in the region.

STF agreed to form two groups of youth volunteers.

Some of the youth volunteers plan to help Egyptian security forces gather information on suspected militants or their supporters and monitor routes used to smuggle weapons.

A second group of volunteers would participate in the military campaign alongside Egypt’s armed forces.

Since the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood there has been a growing threat to Egyptian security from militant groups in the Sanai Peninsular.

The Sinai Province militant group, which supports the Syrian and Iraqi-based Islamic State, has executed prominent members of the tribes.

Hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police have been killed.

The Islamic militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula intensified after then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi removed President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood from power.

Al-Sisi has, with a tough crackdown, weakened the Muslim Brotherhood one of the Middle East’s best organised political groups.

But he has been unable to overpower Sinai’s militants.

Islamist extremists remain a threat to Egypt, including some professing loyalty to Islamic State, who are thriving in the chaos of neighbouring Libya.

But support from the Sanai Province militants is seen as a vote of confidence in the al-Sisi’s administration.

Sinai is a strategic peninsula bordering Israel, Gaza and the Suez Canal.

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