Viglinks

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The New Frontier is Sinai against the Islamic State


Sinai is a small peninsula  which is part of Egypt. It is mostly a desert with a few nomadic settlements. But it is the only source of oil for Egypt and as such has great economic importance. This desert is the scene of a battle between the Islamic state Mujahadeen and the Egyptian army. The ISIL is clear that they would like to control the Suez Canal and choke it so that ships cannot ply through it.  This will shatter Egyptian economy.  The Egyptian army and air force is fighting the ISIL fighters, but despite greater fire power and numerical strength the Egyptian forces are unable to subdue the ISIL. as per reports the Islamic state has about 1000 fighters in Sinai.
The world is so engrossed with the fight against the ISIL in Iraq and Syria, that the battle in Sinai is not given coverage and importance. The ISIL are supporting the Muslim Brother Hood, which is banned in Egypt and the ousted President Morsi( now sentenced to death ). they hope to overthrow the government of General Sisi and re-establish islamic rule.
The battle has now escalated as the ISIL have introduced new weaponry in the conflict. They have got hold of some captured missiles from the Syrian theatre and used one of them with deadly effect in the coast adjoining Sinai. 
A few days back an Egyptian Navy patrol boat with a complement of about 70 sailors was policing the coast of Sinai. It had a one point task to keep the coast under surveillance and stop any help from reaching the ISIL fighters in Sinai. The ISIL reacted in a manner the Egyptian navy never expected.  They targeted the Naval warship with their rocket and hit the vessel. while it was afloat  in the Mediterranean Sea. The boat was hit and as per reports caught fire and sank in 2 minutes after an explosion. The entire crew of almost 70  sailors was killed.
The attack and firing of the rocket was filmed by the ISIL and distributed around the world. The Islamic State fighters  claimed victory and the Egyptians were left red faced and worried. They wondered how the Islamic state fighters had got hold of the missile and also as to how many missiles they had in all. The danger thus is real and and a cause of worry to the nations fighting the ISIL.
It appears the missile along with the firing mechanism fell into the hands of the ISIL during the battle in Syria and is of probable Russian origin. It is not known how many missiles are with the ISIL. More attacks cannot be ruled out and  in case the ISI fighters can reach the Suez Canal the fat will be in the fire and there may be no option, but for the USA to intervene in Sinai. One has to wait and watch. India needs to draw lessons from this war and there is every chance that the Jaish e Mohammed and   Kashmir Liberation front may also get hold of similar weapons and create a greater headache for India.