The Arab world is steadfast in its support for Egypt in its efforts to defeat terrorists. After months of intermittent activity, an Egyptian group called Ansar Beit Al Maqdis linked to Al Qaida and Daesh, launched a coordinated series of attacks last week that left 45 people dead, many of them soldiers of the Egyptian Army in what the terrorists claim was retaliation for a government crackdown on supporters of former president, the Islamist Mohammad Mursi.

A furious and deeply moved President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi announced a set of determined counter moves, including the declaration of the Qassam Brigades (the military wing of the Palestinian group Hamas) as illegal. The Ansar have renamed themselves as the ‘Sinai Province’ in an apparent effort to make a claim to the Sinai as their own territory, where they have exploited some dissatisfaction among local tribes. Al Sissi warned the group that had attacked the Egyptian Army so directly, “we are fighting the strongest secret organisation of the last two centuries,’ as he continued “Egypt will never leave Sinai. Sinai will not separate from Egypt.”

Armed groups have regularly attacked security forces in the Sinai since Mursi was toppled by Al Sissi in July 2013 but Al Sissi’s tough policies have attracted widespread public support as the vast majority of Egyptians want to see a return to stability after continuous turmoil since 2011. People are desperate to see an economic revival because unemployment has climbed from 8.9 per cent in 2011 to 13 per cent this year.

Al Sissi’s long-term strategy is to use mega-projects to boost the economy and create jobs, like the parallel second Suez Canal which he has already started in the Sinai, east of the existing canal. Firm support from Gulf states like the UAE and Saudi Arabia is important for the success of Al Sissi’s economic plans, which is forthcoming because they share Al Sissi’s view that the Muslim Brotherhood is an existential threat. It is significant that the Gulf states have not wavered in their support for Al Sissi’s government, despite wayward international speculation and the falling oil price.