The crash of a Russian airliner in the Sinai Peninsula is just the latest weight on the shoulders of Egypt’s beleaguered President Sisi.
For Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, it could not have come at a worse time.
On Saturday, October 31, a passenger plane carrying mostly Russian nationals fell from the sky over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 on board. Initially, the Egyptian government (as well as the Russian) did their best to quell any suggestion that terrorism was the cause. Yet within a week, the United Kingdom had halted flights in and out of the popular tourist destination of Sharm el-Sheikh, declaring that the crash was most likely the result of a bomb on board.
After holding out for an extra couple of days, Russian President Vladmir Putin one-upped the Brits, not only ordering the immediate cessation of all flights in and out of the Sinai Peninsula, but also canceled Russian flights everywhere in Egypt. He then declared the moratorium on Egyptian travel would last “for months.” With Egypt being the most popular tourist destination for Russians, Cairo stands to lose in excess of $250 million of revenue per month, the tourism minister said on Wednesday. Before the crash, the tourism sector comprised about 14 percent of Egypt’s economy—an economy that was already faltering due to high unemployment and the low oil price, which has all but dried up Gulf investment in the country.
This latest blow is just one more crisis that Egypt’s president must weather in order to stay in power.
“He is under constant death threats,” Vin Baker, cochairman of the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, said last week after discussions with senior Israeli security officials. “Many people said we’re not sure where he sleeps at night. And I think there is a question mark in the minds of Israelis about whether or not the government can succeed.”
Israelis are understandably worried about Sisi’s longevity. Not since the era of Anwar Sadat, Egypt’s former president who signed a peace agreement with the Jewish State in the late ’70s, has Israel had so firm an ally in the Arab world as Sisi. In response to Sadat’s overtures to Israel, the Arab League suspended Egypt and moved its headquarters from Cairo to Tunis. A couple of years later, while attending a military parade in Cairo, Sadat was assassinated by an Egyptian member of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group.
Sisi seems to be following the same precarious route. Not only has he reaffirmed the 40-year-old peace treaty with Israel, he has actively encouraged other nations in the Middle East to join the treaty. Just last week, Egypt voted with Israel in the United Nations for the first time in history. While the vote was over an insignificant topic, admission of Israel into the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Affairs, it still enraged the Arab world.
No wonder Sisi has experienced a number of assassination attempts since he came into power in 2013. So far, the Islamist extremists have been unsuccessful.
But putting the foiled plots on his life aside, Sisi has much more to worry about.
Continue to watch as Sisi struggles to keep the Islamists from taking over, all the while doing his best to neutralize negative world public opinion against his internal policy decisions. To read the Trumpet’s long-view forecast of Egypt’s future, read “Iran-Egypt Alliance Prophesied.” ▪
Full article: Is Egypt About to Fall Into Chaos—Again? (The Trumpet)