While the cause of the Russian airliner crash in Egypt remains unknown, the incident has re-focused the world’s attention on the Sinai Peninsula – site of a number of popular tourist resorts, and host to a long-running security crisis with regional and international implications that cannot be ignored.
Unrest in the Sinai is nothing new. During the political and civil unrest that followed Egypt’s revolution in 2011, the Sinai Peninsula became a base for militant activity. Armed groups took advantage of the security vacuum there, using weapons smuggled from Libya to begin enforcing their jihadist ideology. Insurgent activity further intensified in 2013 after a military coup ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the subsequent crackdown on Islamists by the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
But even though the Sinai crisis has been underway for years, the rest of the world has only really begun to pay attention in the last year or so.