News / Middle East

Egyptian Army Boosts Forces in Sinai After Kidnapping

Egyptian Army soldiers guard gates during police protest at main crossing into Gaza Strip, near Rafah, May 19, 2013.
Egyptian Army soldiers guard gates during police protest at main crossing into Gaza Strip, near Rafah, May 19, 2013.
Reuters
The Egyptian army sent reinforcements into the Sinai Peninsula on Monday after President Mohamed Morsi said there would be no talks with militant Islamists who abducted seven members of the security forces last week.
 
Radical Islamists have expanded into a security vacuum in Sinai that the state has struggled to fill since an uprising swept autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011. The groups have launched attacks on Israel and targets in North Sinai.
 
The kidnapping has highlighted lawlessness in the peninsula bordering Israel, enraged Egyptian security forces and piled domestic pressure on Morsi to act. Egyptian security forces have blocked border crossings into the Gaza Strip to pressure the government into helping free their colleagues.
 
Witnesses saw armored personnel carriers moving east on Monday over the Suez Canal towards North Sinai where militants staged the abduction and where gunmen assaulted a police base on Monday. They later arrived in the North Sinai town of El-Arish, accompanied by the commander of Egypt's second field army.
 
A military official said the extra military forces were dispatched to Sinai after a meeting on Sunday between the army command and Morsi, who has promised not to submit to blackmail by kidnappers demanding the release of jailed Islamists.
 
Presidential spokesman Omar Amer said, "All options are on the table to free the kidnapped soldiers."
 
The state-run Al-Ahram newspaper said on its website that shipping in the Suez Canal had been briefly halted as the reinforcements crossed the waterway.
 
"Our patience has run out," Al-Ahram quoted a military official as saying in its print edition.
 
As security began to unravel in the peninsula later in 2011, Israel agreed to Egyptian requests to deploy more troops there than allowed by the countries' 1979 peace treaty. The Israeli defense ministry had no immediate comment on the new deployment.
 
The Sinai is mainly a large swathe of rugged, thinly populated desert but its Red Sea coast has a string of international tourist resorts.
 
Morsi Faces Tough Choices on Action

"Our impression is that the Israelis are eager for Egypt to improve the security situation in the Sinai, and it's unlikely that they would object," said a Western diplomat in Cairo.
 
Egyptian security forces launched a security operation to re-establish control in Sinai last August after an attack that killed 16 Egyptian border guards.
 
Morsi said on Sunday there would be no talks with "the criminals" — a reference to militants who adhere to a more radical school of Islam than the president's Muslim Brotherhood.
 
The kidnappers are demanding the release of militants convicted last year of the attacks that killed seven people, six of them members of the security forces, in 2011.
 
A video posted online on Sunday showed seven blindfolded men with their hands bound above their heads. They said they were the hostages, begging Morsi to free political detainees in Sinai in exchange for their own release.
 
Al-Masry Al-Youm, an independent newspaper, reported that parents and friends of some of the men who appeared in the video had confirmed their identities. The video's authenticity could not be independently confirmed.
 
"In domestic political terms, Morsi is going to be damned if he does and damned if he doesn't," said Yasser El-Shimy, Egypt analyst with the International Crisis Group.
 
"If he negotiates, he will be criticized for being too lenient with Islamist militants, and if he tries to wage an operation to free them, which may entail casualties, then he is also going to be widely criticized."

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid