News You Really Need To See: “Tourist Sites on Alert as Militants Go for Egypt’s Economic Lifeline”

“Tourist Sites on Alert as Militants Go for Egypt’s Economic Lifeline” Reuters, June 11, 2015

After a violent campaign directed at security forces, Egyptian militants appear to be zooming in on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s most vulnerable point: the economy. Attacks on two prime tourist sites in the space of eight days are deeply worrying for a government which has staked much of its credibility on reviving the economy after years of political turmoil.  A suicide bomber blew himself up on Wednesday near the ancient Karnak temple in Luxor, wounding four Egyptians.  A week earlier, two police officers were killed in an attack near the Giza Pyramids, hundreds of miles to the north.  Security forces on Thursday dismantled a bomb found at the entrance of the supplies ministry in Cairo, state news agency MENA said.  While the attacks did not kill or harm any tourists, they raise concerns that Islamist insurgents have opened a new, economic front. … Sisi has announced several mega-projects, garnered billions of dollars in aid from Gulf allies and enforced painful subsidy cuts to try to jumpstart the economy and boost foreign investment.  But a direct attack on tourism, a top foreign currency earner, would inflict major damage and could undermine any confidence in Egypt that Sisi has generated. … A campaign by militants against tourism in the 1990s under Mubarak dealt a major blow to tourism. Fifty-eight tourists and four Egyptians were killed in an attack in Luxor in 1997. … No one has claimed responsibility, but suspicions are likely to fall on groups like the Islamic State-affiliated Sinai Province, which wants to topple the Cairo government and has been bedevilling security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.  Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed there since Sisi, as army chief, overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Mursi after mass protests against his rule in 2013.”

Quickie analysis:  An interesting look at Egypt’s Achilles’ heel, past and present.

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