Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Egyptian Concerns: Terrorism, Tourism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A grounded EgyptAir plane. Reuters/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Cairo-Finally, the search teams have found the two black boxes of the Egyptian airplane that has crashed in the Mediterranean. The boxes include information that will put an end to the mystery behind the incident which killed all 66 people on board.

Over the past years, many airplanes have crashed, including the Russian aircraft over Sinai and the Malaysian jet that has crashed in Asia. Yet the incident of the Egyptian Airbus raises two main related concerns: terrorism and tourism. The Egyptian army said its navy had found human remains, wreckage and the personal belongings of passengers floating in the Mediterranean about 290 km (180 miles) north of Alexandria. EgyptAir flight 804 was heading from Paris to Cairo, but vanished from radar screens near Greece.

During the IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) held recently in Dublin, Safwat Mosallam, chairman & CEO of EgyptAir has denied media reports saying that the crashed airplane sent a series of warning signals during its flights 24 hours before the incident. He added that the jet didn’t suffer from any maintenance-related problems before its departure.

The mysterious crash of airplanes that occurred over the past years has not prevented people from travelling around the world. The travel forecasting in airplanes is expected to increase from 3.5 to 3.8 billion passengers annually. New plans are also being developed to protect the passengers and to confront the sudden disappearance of airplanes. Yet some see that the case of the Egyptian Airbus A320 is different, because it raises two main concerns: terrorism and its threat for the future of tourism. Many observers see that Egyptian tourism, which is considered one of the main sectors that brings in revenues, is being targeted.

Tourism sector
Many countries succeeded in overtaking the crisis occurring in the aviation sector and in preventing the accidents that obstruct tourism, investment, and travelling.

Commenting on the Egyptian airplane’s crash, the Chairman of the Egypt Airports Company, Jad El-Karim Nasr told Asharq Al-Awsat that the recent crash incident has affected the tourism sector which is already suffering from difficulties since 2011.

He said tourism was negatively affected by the crash of the Russian airplane over Sinai last October. Yet, he sees that the impact of the Egyptian plane’s crash will be less damaging, particularly if the investigations showed that it was terrorism-related. Such results will exempt Egypt from any responsibilities, as the airplane took off from Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris.

Danger of terrorism
Dr. Khaled Refaat Saleh, head of Taiba Center for Research & Studies in Cairo, told Asharq Al-Aswat that when comparing the accidents, Egypt differs from Malaysia, saying that Egypt is combating terrorism while Malaysia is not. Saleh also suggested that the crash was caused by a terrorist attack.

Terrorism and ISIS
ISIS adopted the explosion of the Russian airplane over Sinai, and extremists announced that this operation was to avenge Moscow’s military intervention in Syria. While the EgyptAir craft crash was not adopted by any party, many have suggested that it is a terrorist operation, including French President Francois Hollande, who has said all the probabilities are under study including a ‘terrorism-related attack.”

Egypt is a target
Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail suggested that the plane crash is due to a terrorist attack and not a technical malfunction. Gérard Feldzer, an aviation expert, stated that France and Egypt are both targets for extremist organizations. He also sees that the “technical malfunction” reason is less accurate, as the plane was constructed in 2003 and enjoys a reliable design.

Brigadier Nasser Salem, professor of strategic sciences at Nasser Military Academy, saw that the officials should implement campaigns to promote the national tourism, aiming to fulfill the goal set by the ministry of tourism, by attracting more that 10 million tourists.

Mohammed Yehia Rashed, the Egyptian minister of tourism, said that his ministry will not allow the accident to obstruct its plan for tourism development, adding he intends to improve the image of Egypt abroad.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the General Prosecution in Egypt ordered to hand over the first black box to the committee of technical investigation to take the necessary procedures, and the same step is expected to be taken with the second voice recorder.