Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Egypt: Plan to Install Surveillance Cameras at Tourist Sites Are Unlikely to Be Effective

According to Reuters, Egyptian authorities may soon install surveillance cameras at tourist sites to deter militants from targeting visitors, an Interior Ministry spokesman reported yesterday (October 8) after suspected extremists mounted another fatal attack on police.

Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorists have targeted police and soldiers almost daily in the Sinai Peninsula since the army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in early July 2013.

The attacks are the most sustained since an Islamist insurgency that was crushed by then-President Hosni Mubarak in the 1990s, when militants killed tourists, government officials and policemen. A total of about 1,200 people died on both sides.

Gunmen killed a police officer and wounded another in the Suez Canal city of Port Said on Tuesday (October 8), security sources said. The police were guarding a customs office south of the city at the time.

COMMENT: The installation of surveillance cameras at tourist venues may simply be a waste of valuable resources, as most terrorists either wear masks that conceal their identities or are able to sabotage cameras, particularly when terrorist operations are conducted during hours of darkness.

Foreign tourism has been in a free-fall since 2011 when former President Hosni Mubarak was deposed leaving Egypt without a significant influx of foreign currency.

Also at risk is the potential withdrawal of billions of foreign assistance from a number of developed nations, particularly if Egypt continues to show signs of political instability and an exodus of foreign tourism.

The economy is expected to grow by only 2.6% in the fiscal year ending June 2014, according to a Reuters poll this month, well below the 3.5% the government expected to achieve.

In the several years preceding the 2011 uprising against Mubarak, the economy grew at about 7% annually.

Though the Muslim Brotherhood has been weakened, Islamist groups which sympathize with it show no signs of giving up protests against Morsi's ouster.
On Monday (October 7), suspected militants killed six Egyptian soldiers near the Suez Canal and fired rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) at a state satellite station in Cairo.

I continue to discourage NON-ESSENTIAL travel to Egypt, particularly given the continuing instability, disruption of commerce, daily protests and strikes which disrupt not only tourism, but conventional business as well. 

Those visiting Egypt should be prepared for travel countrywide to be disrupted the majority of the time.