|The Libyan-Egyptian Border
Source: Google Maps
Living in a ghetto means to be marginalised and ignored by the powerful. North Africa is the world’s ghetto. If this is your home, you would do all you can to bring it into the spotlight, to be recognised for your contributions.
Egypt this week made headlines for the first time since 2013 by launching airstrikes against ISIS in Libya. “We must take revenge for the Egyptian blood that was shed,” said the Egyptian statement to the international community, as it called for the coalition to expand into North Africa.
What wasn’t said, though, was why state of the art military actions were expended upon by the Egyptian government, led by former General Al-Sisi, while Egyptians both in and around the capital Cairo struggle to make enough food for their communities.
Since the country’s first of three revolutions in 2011 tourism, previously much of Egypt’s key economy, has been all but wiped out. Westerners write off their bucket-list desire to see the Great Pyramids of Giza, or the Valley of the Kings, site of the tomb of Tutankhamun, the century’s most famous archaeological discovery. The thousands of families whose livelihoods depend on hiring out camels and horses to tourists have had to choose between feeding their children and feeding their animals.
The Egyptian government has recognised the desperate necessity of the last shreds of tourism that remain, predominantly in the Red Sea resorts around Sharm El-Sheikh. Last year they introduced special laws against harassment and harsher punishments for crimes committed in tourist areas, in an attempt to reassure and protect their visiting income.
|Egyptian air strikes launched in retaliation for the deaths of Egyptian Copts|
Still, when I return to Egypt next month I don’t expect to see a nation reinvigorated, content and well-fed. I expect illiteracy to be as rampant as when I left last. I expect to see girls working ten hour days as street sellers for families who can’t afford to educate them. Egypt can’t afford to be sending fighter jets to fight a threat others created. Egypt can’t afford enough electricity to run its cities.
To allow Al-Sisi to contribute military resources to the fight against ISIS unrebuked shows the international community’s true lack of interest in North Africa’s people beyond their geopolitical weight. The United Nations should not only deny their support to Egyptian operations in Libya, they should state unequivocally how unacceptable this use of public purse is for Egyptians, and put Egypt back on the map.