Morsi Sentencing Reignites Muslim Brotherhood Militancy

05/20/2015 11:57 am ET | Updated May 20, 2016

The May 16-17 weekend proved to be among the most controversial periods in President Sisi's nearly two-year rule, with Egypt's Mubarak era-judiciary issuing three highly symbolic decisions against the country's various opposition groups. On May 16th, former president Morsi and several other high-level Muslim Brotherhood officials to death on conspiracy charges in the infamous 2011 Wadi Natroun prison break case. That same day, Egypt's court banned all Football Ultras organizations under the country's counter-terrorism degree, effectively outlawing some of Egypt's most vibrant, yet disruptive groups. One day later, six jihadists from the famed "Arab Sharkas Cell" who were allegedly involved in numerous attacks in the Nile Delta region, targeting troops and police.

In the nights after Morsi's death sentence spread across the global airways, Egypt's anti-government militants set out to commit wave of attacks, forcing the Interior Ministry to go on high alert and cancel all leaves. Since May 16, at least three shooting attacks targeted troops near Ismailia and in the Sharqiya Province, while over 26 crude bombs targeted electricity infrastructure in outlying areas, major highways, police stations, and a church south of Cairo. In total, one policeman was killed and over six were injured, while at least one assailant was injured when his explosive detonated prematurely in a southern Cairo neighborhood..

The recent spate of attacks, in their modus operandi, targets, locations, and intensity, are all signature work of the many radicalized Brotherhood members who had lost faith in democracy after Morsi's ousting. These amateurish groups, often organized from Brotherhood cells operating in Islamist bastions in the Fayoum, Sharqiya, Beheira, Giza, and Ismailia Governorates, have clearly been reinvigorated after an April slumber which, at the time, signaled an increase in stability in a country wrought by grassroots militancy that police had been seemingly unable to curb.

In an equally notable trend, Egypt's Salafi jihadists, including the ISIS-allied Wilayat Sinai, appear to have held their fire after the Morsi sentencing. A shooting attack on a bus carrying judges and lawyers near Al-Arish (Wilayat Sinai's operating area) May 16 was deemed by the Interior Ministry to have been pre-planned, rather than a snap reaction to the judiciary's move. But those who understand the workings of ISIS know that the group will go out of its way to show its opposition to the relatively more moderate regional Muslim Brotherhood movement. This silence, however, won't last long. On May 19th, it was reported that yet another government vehicle, this time an ambulance, was hijacked in the northern Sinai, a typical precursor to a Wilayat Sinai car bombing, the next of which could be the group's response to the Arab Sharkas executions.

In total, the blows exchanged by Egypt's judiciary and its various Islamist movements paint a picture of a country still dangerously polarized along secularist-religious lines. Egypt's judiciary, for its part, is still gunning for revenge after Morsi's attempts to sideline Mubarak-era judges during his brief rule, and even Sisi himself may be unable to contain them. But one thing remains clear, the majority of the Egyptians long for an end to the instability brought about by the jihadists, the brotherhood, and the Ultras, that has crippled the country's economy for four years. This public backing may not be around for long, and the Onus is on Sisi to find a solution to calm tensions and deliver an alternative outlet to violence for anti-government groups to voice their discontent.

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