Security Threats on Egypt’s Western Border with Libya

Security threats in Egypt are not limited to the Sinai Peninsula where there is a confrontation with the ISIS-affiliated group known as Sinai Province. but the security threat is also escalating on the western border (with Libya). The most recent indicator for this is the killing of six Egyptian border guards in a shootout with smugglers near Egypt’s western border with Libya.

At an earlier time, two soldiers were killed in February when the Egyptian security forces went on a campaign to abort smuggling a large number of weapons at the al-Boweity area, in the western desert along the Libyan borders. This area is one of Sinai Province-a group affiliated to ISIS – stronghold which is known for its militant attacks against the Egyptian military in Egypt.

There is no doubt that Libya’s security deterioration was behind increasing the smuggling activities through the borders especially under Libya’s weak control in securing its borders. Accordingly, the continuous conflict in Libya will increase Egypt’s instability and this would probably lead to Egypt’s intervention in Libya whether this was according to a planned scenario or by coincidence.

Despite the repetitive confrontations between the Egyptian army and smugglers, however this didn’t reach the turmoil situation of the western border attack that targeted the checkpoint near al-Farafra Oasis in the center of the western border 400 km far of the Libyan borders, killing 22 soldiers in July 2014.

At that time, suspicion focused on Hesham Ashmawy, the former officer who was known as Abi Omar Al-Mogahed, the leader of Al Qaeda affiliated group, called “Al -Morabeton”, which mostly operates in North Africa, and was accused of carrying out the attacks.

In fact, the expansion of ISIS in Libya and the attempts to expand its activities in new areas other than its traditional areas in Sinai increases the strategic threat that is facing Egypt’s security.

While talking about the globalization of jihad-related to the Sinai Province or al- Morabeton, there are also calls for Egypt’s military intervention in Libya based on the claims that most of the weapons, financing, and even the military action come from Libya.

It seems that ISIS wants to push Egypt to the Libyan swamp as the motives of those organizations  are ideological rather than political and they do not care about the amount of hatred they create to achieve the prophecies that they believe in. ISIS in Libya or Egypt does not care about achieving triumphs as they only want war that creates chaos to fill the gaps left away by national state.