Beyond fighting militants in its own Sinai Peninsula, Egypt is trying to organize an international coalition against the Islamic State in Libya and helping Saudi Arabia defend its borders. This nation of 90 million people seeks to restore the leadership role that has eluded it since its influence waned under former President Hosni Mubarak.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have given Egypt an estimated $30 billion to rescue its damaged economy, in return for Egypt providing military manpower alongside its Gulf counterparts. A contingent of Egyptian troops is already deployed on Saudi Arabia’s border with Iraq to help defend it against jihadi fighters. Egypt also has military advisers on the Saudi-Yemeni border. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are bankrolling multibillion dollar arms purchases by Egypt, including jet fighters and naval vessels from France and Russia.
Egypt carried out two rounds of airstrikes in Libya on Monday, on top of secret strikes it conducted last year along with the UAE against Libyan Islamist militias. Egyptian troops briefly crossed the border into Libya Monday to conduct search-and-destroy missions targeting possible surface-to-air missiles that could threaten Egyptian planes headed back from Libya.