Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Egyptian Tourism

"After the first shell, they tried to run. There was no place to hide. Six bodies are completely carbonized and the vehicles were destroyed as well."
"Security had been informed of the trip's schedule and had been provided with a security detail. They registered the numbers of the cars in the hotel, according to the security regulations."
Mohamed Salama, nephew of slain desert guide Nabil al-Tamawi

"The corpses are still lying in the desert. Awad's brothers were trying to reach it but they were told by the security that the prosecution must review the situation before they were moved."
Amr Imam, cousin of dead tour guide Awad Fathi

"[The convoy had] no information that this region is banned, no warning signs, and no instructions from checkpoints on the road, or the Tourism and Antiquities policeman present with them."
"Egypt will pay the price of the impact of this incident on the tourism industry."
Hassan el-Nahla, chairman, General Union of Tourist Guides
The White Desert, a Western Desert area of chalk rocks where the strike took place. Credit Cris Bouroncle/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
As though Egypt's economy and its tourist trade aren't under enough stress thanks to the presence of Islamist terrorists throughout the Sinai peninsula who constantly attack Egyptian police and military using techniques that Islamic State has made their hallmark, including suicide trucks packed with explosives.

There are multiple ways that a country's stability can be destroyed; one is through murderous violence, the other through destruction of its economy. And of course they are linked.

Tourism does traditionally represent a hefty income for the country, employing Egyptians in the tourist trade, and bringing into the country much-needed international visitors and their dollars. This is by no means the first time that tourists have been targeted by jihadi Islamist extremists, but each time it happens it hammers another nail in the coffin containing Egyptian tourism.

The Egyptian military is on edge, understandably, with the certain knowledge that Bedouin Salafists, the agitation of the Muslim Brotherhood militias, their offshoot Hamas, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are all gathered to mount constant attacks for the express purpose of overthrowing the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
"What we saw was not just the lack of training of the military forces, but also their desperation."
"It tells you how chaotic the situation is, if they feel so desperate to put an end to this that they end up taking out what we gather is the first thing they see."
Mokhtar Awad, researcher, Center for American Progress 

Egyptian security forces killed a dozen people in a horribly mistaken attack on a group of tourists. Among the dead were Egyptian tourist guides and eight Mexican tourists who had stopped to enjoy a picnic in the desert dunes on Sunday afternoon. The Interior Ministry announced that a police and military operation that had been "chasing terrorist elements" and had "mistakenly" targeted the jeeps for those of terrorists. That much at least is true.

Local residents and relatives of the guides who had been killed begged to differ, however, emphasizing that the helicopters had fired without warning. The police guard that was with them was also injured in the attack.

Nabil al-Tamawi, a well-known guide who specialized in leading meditation tours in the desert was killed when his group stopped near an oasis located 400 kilometres south-west of Cairo. Some of the tourists were busily taking photographs when the helicopters opened fire. Authorities claimed afterward that the group was positioned in a restricted zone. That may be questionable.

However, ISIL loyalists had stationed themselves in the area resulting in the Egyptian military limiting tourist traffic there. "When it comes to tourists, it is a Ministry of Interior issue, not ours. This incident has nothing to do with the army even if the army and police carried out the operation together. This is the system of this country, and you don’t have the right to question it", said Brig. Gen. Mohamed Samir.

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