Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Letters from Egypt: More Americans to Leave

Although US Secretary of State John Kerry said on March 12 that Congress would soon decide if the US would resume military aid to Egypt, another American defense company just announced its plans to downsize its Egypt operations. General Dynamics was recently informed that it will decrease its Egypt staff by 50%, following behind aerospace and defense company Raytheon. Others that could follow suit include Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

It is difficult to gauge if contract non-renewals or decreased staff are the result of the US government (or in Raytheon’s case, the Egyptian military) or the end of a contract altogether as these firms have several divisions within. However, when the US cut military aid (around $1.3 billion annually) in October, it affected Egypt’s military from gaining access to more F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 tank kits, Harpoon missiles and Apache helicopters. It would only be likely that this would trickle into jobs that pertained to any of the halted equipment, e.g. Boeing packing up employees that work on Apache helicopters or Lockheed relocating its staff that deal with F-16s.


In other news, several incidents have occurred throughout Maadi including (per the US Embassy) two armed robberies. The first was around Road 213, but the story from the embassy is unclear.

“The men had lured the boys to the vehicle by asking for directions. The incident occurred between Victoria Square and the Cairo American College (CAC) Kiosk at 8:00 p.m. The boys reported that they were driven outside of Maadi and robbed of cash and mobile phones, but left unharmed with enough money to make their way back to Maadi.”

Dear Embassy, just a couple of questions here:
How many boys were there?
What were their ages? If the boys were really young, I can imagine some naivety; however, how did multiple boys get inside the car from being “lured” from outside in an area that has high traffic throughout the night particularly at 8 pm?

The embassy advised that “Children should be reminded that they should never respond to strangers’ request for assistance or to approach the vehicle of someone they do not know.” I think that should be revised to “Teach your children not to get into a stranger’s vehicle” because I really can’t understand how this happened otherwise. If you know, please feel free to clarify.

The next incident happened on Rd 209 also near CAC. “An individual stopped the vehicle he was driving and brandished a weapon toward a female with two small children and a dog.”

Now onto two other separate incidents that I can confirm:
Villa near Medan Victoria in Maadi (close to ACE Club) was robbed the weekend of the March 7th. Electronics, jewelry and randomly – a couple of bottles of perfume – were stolen.

Female held up at knife point close to USAID offices in New Maadi at 9 am March 11. The perpetrator was caught off-guard and ran away when another office employee appeared.

Please remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Females especially, do not walk with your headphones in because you should be aware of cars or someone approaching on foot. Remember that anything can be used as a weapon – you don’t need a taser or the like. You can use something as simple as a fork (my personal fave because if you forget to remove it from your purse and pass through a metal detector, you can always say it was for your lunch) and if all else fails, use a writing pen. Also, if you carry any kind of perfume or body spray, it can suffice as pepper spray (an irritant is an irritant regardless of its intended purpose). Either way, you’re not always going to have someone to come to your defense and it is up to you to ultimately safeguard yourself. Be smart.