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Al-Sisi reshuffles army leadership

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Changes made in the Egypt’s second army and Southern Military District

Minister of Defence Field Marshall Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi (AFP, Vasily Maximov)

Minister of Defence Field Marshall Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi (AFP, Vasily Maximov)

Field Marshall Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi reshuffled military leadership in Egypt’s second army and southern military zone Monday, state-owned Al-Ahram reported.

Al-Sisi ordered that second army chief of staff Major General Mohamed El-Shahat be appointed commander of the force in charge of the Suez Canal and North Sinai. He replaced General Ahmed Wasfy, who was appointed head of the Armed Forces Training Authority.

Mohamed Arafat, commander of the Southern Military District, was appointed head of the Armed Forces Inspection Authority. His post will be filled by General Yehia Al-Gebaily, formerly the Southern Military District’s Chief of Staff.

Egypt’s second army has been in charge of fighting a full-scale campaign to uproot Al-Qaeda-inspired insurgents from the largely lawless North Sinai. The militants, active since the downfall of former president Hosni Mubarak, have increased the frequency and scale of their attacks since Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president, was ousted on 3 July 2013.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, the largest of the groups operating in Sinai, has claimed a number of attacks outside of the peninsula since Morsi’s ouster. On 24 January, a car bomb detonated outside the Cairo Security Directorate, killing four and injuring 76.

The group also claimed an assassination attempt with a car bomb on Minister of Interior Mohamed on 5 September. The bomb wounded tens of bystanders, but left the minister unscathed.

Although the army frequently posts statements of large gains against ‘terrorist elements’, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis recently posted a number of videos to YouTube featuring heavily armed, masked gunmen patrolling villages in the isolated peninsula.

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