It has been one year since Egyptian President Abel Fattah El Sisi was elected in a landslide vote. Egypt’s economy is projected to grow at 5 percent in fiscal year 2015/2016, unemployment is down and rating agencies are positive about Egypt. Foreign investors, including BP and Siemens, have signed multibillion dollar deals with Egypt. Early on in the presidency, the government implemented reforms such as cutting subsidies and tackling bureaucracy. This is no small feat.
The country’s economic resurgence speaks volumes to the resilience and diversification of the Egyptian economy—especially as Egypt’s tourism industry begins to steadily rebound despite a relentless campaign of terror that has claimed over 1,000 army, police and civilian lives since the ousting of former President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood in June 2013. The performance of the economy is particularly impressive, given the resources diverted to both fighting terror and repairing the damage to infrastructure and buildings caused by regular terror attacks.
Visitors to Egypt note with surprise and some relief the sense of normalcy in the country. Signs of economic activity are visible as soon as one lands, along the car trip from the airport to downtown Cairo. Cafes are packed, construction is booming and stores are doing robust business. But these visitors must be forgiven for their initial surprise. Rarely has such a wide gap existed between the commonly accepted narrative of Egypt and the reality on the ground.
Analysts who focus on a supposed “cycle of violence” linking the government’s alleged “crackdown” with the increase in attacks are completely missing the point.
There is no cycle of violence. On the one hand there is terror that kills, and on the other a slow judicial process that fails to deliver swift justice. Endless trials and appeals can take years until closure. After two years of over 200 terror attacks and 1,000 deaths, only one civil death sentence has been carried out. Such protracted due process has been misinterpreted by terrorists as weakness. The result has been a sharp increase in both scope and brazenness of the terror attacks.