KLM, Royal Dutch Airline recently announced it was phasing out its service to Egypt. Flights between Amsterdam and Cairo will end January 8.
KLM said it was doing this for “economic reasons,” and blamed devaluation and other currency restrictions.
It didn’t mention another, probably more important factor, that demand is disappearing. Few European tourists or businesspeople want to fly to Egypt these days.
There’s something basically unattractive about a government famed for its corruption and repression and a populace in deep social, political and economic distress.
Unless you’re running for President, I guess.
The Egyptian President. Gen Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi is in New York for the UN General Assembly and both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton dropped by to drop a knee in front the brutal dictator. El-Sisi’s government had just the day before announced new attacks on free speech and the human rights advocates who try to practice it in Egypt.
But this latest crackdown went unmentioned as the Republican Trump rushed to assure el-Sisi of, as the NY Times had it, “his strong support for Egypt’s war on terrorism, and how under a Trump Administration, the United States of America will be a loyal friend, that Egypt can count on in the days and years ahead.”
“With Clinton,” the Times says Sisi took the initiative, telling the Democratic nominee of his plans for “a new civil society, a new modern country that upholds the rule of law and respects human rights and liberties.”
But, Mr President, er, Mr. General, er, Mr Dictator, Prosecutor, Killer of your opponents…why not do it now? Why not uphold the rule of law and respect human rights right now? Apparently neither Clinton nor Trump thought to ask.
The el-Sisi government may be failing miserably on the “bread” front, but when it comes to “circuses,” well, the Egyptian government does have TV, and what got me thinking about calling our guest was word of a big new “everything in Egypt is wonderful” TV campaign the government is launching.
Marc Lynch is professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, where he is the director of the Institute for Middle East Studies and of the Project on Middle East Political Science, and a contributing editor at the Monkey Cage blog for The Washington Post.
In addition to his new book, The New Arab Wars, Lynch has written The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East, and Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq Al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today,