The Egyptian army had plenty of choices for keeping Hosni Mubarak out of sight after his release from prison. The choice of a military hospital is … striking:
Egypt’s ousted leader Hosni Mubarak was released from prison and transported by helicopter to a military hospital Thursday in Cairo, according to exclusive footage shown on a private TV station.
A medically equipped helicopter landed Thursday at an Egypt prison Thursday to transport Hosni Mubarak from prison to his new home under house arrest, state TV reported, as dozens of the ousted leader’s supporters rallied outside waiting for the ousted leader to be released after more than two years in detention. …
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi has ordered that Mubarak be put under house arrest as part of the emergency measures imposed this month after a wave of violence sparked by Morsi’s ouster. The decision appeared designed to ease some of the criticism over Mubarak being freed from prison and ensure that he appears in court next week for a separate trial.
Yes, but it’s not going to ease anyone’s concerns over the military takeover last month. While a military hospital might mean easier security arrangements, it looks more like an embrace of their former dictator while the army continues its roundup of Muslim Brotherhood figures. Police arrested the group’s spokesman today, for instance:
Ahmed Arif, the spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood was arrested Thursday, state-run television al-Masriya reported.
He’s the latest key figure in the group to be taken into custody by Egypt’s interim military government.
The hospital may be necessary, given the conflicting reports over Mubarak’s health, but Fox notes that some of those reports were a bit self-serving, too:
Since his ouster, Mubarak’s supporters have released conflicting details about his health, including that the 85 year old suffered a stroke, a heart attack and at times went into a coma. His critics called these an attempt to gain public sympathy and court leniency.
His wife, Suzanne, has been living in Cairo and keeping a low-profile, occasionally visiting Mubarak and their two sons in prison. But security officials said Mubarak was more likely to be moved to a military hospital because of his ailing health.
Meanwhile, the prospects for the Egyptian economy are going from bad to worse. The AP reports that their tourist industry — which was already tanking before this summer — has dried up almost entirely now:
Heshmat Youssef used to make a decent living sailing foreign tourists down Egypt’s Nile River. Since political unrest flared, business has dried up faster than water in the desert.
Riots and killings that spiked after the Aug. 14 crackdown against followers of ousted President Mohammed Morsi have delivered a severe blow to Egypt’s tourism industry, which until recently accounted for more than 11 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and nearly 20 percent of its foreign currency revenues.
The chairman of the Egyptian Airports Company, Gad el-Karim Nasr, said arrivals at Egyptian airports have dropped by more than 40 percent from Sunday through Tuesday compared to the same time the previous week. He said that in the same time-frame, 13,000 tourists, mostly from Germany and Italy, have left the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada — with only 3,000 new arrivals.
The US market had already mostly disappeared. Now Europeans are avoiding Egypt, a big blow to their hopes for hard currency in an economy that had already been in crisis. While the US and the West had other interests in Egypt, the domestic unrest came mostly from Mohamed Morsi’s economic impotence and starvation conditions in the country. The coup has made that problem even more acute. Unless the military can dial down the violence and rage in Egypt, the tourist industry will remain shuttered, and the military may find that the mobs in the streets will shortly turn their sights on them. Hosting Mubarak might exacerbate and accelerate that trend.