CAIRO — Egypt has admonished the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for issuing a travel warning for American citizens to avoid large gatherings and public spaces due to “potential security concerns.”
In a statement issued late Friday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the U.S. Embassy had not informed authorities of the reasons behind its travel warning or the specifics of the security concerns.
The U.S. advisory is valid through to Sunday.
Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said his ministry contacted the embassy to seek clarifications.
During that communication, he said, the ministry “denounced issuing such unjustified statements that may have negative consequences, including damaging the economy.” He also called on all foreign embassies in Egypt to exercise caution over issuing “unjustified” statements.
The embassies of Canada and Britain, however, have issued similar travel warnings over the weekend, but Abu Zeid made no mention of them. Canada and Britain also did not give reasons for issuing their warnings.
Egyptian security forces have for years battled Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula. The insurgency occasionally spills over into the rest of the country, with bombings and assassinations. The frequency of such attacks, however, has significantly decreased in recent months.
There are nevertheless persistent fears of a popular backlash against a package of biting reforms the government is expected to introduce soon to jumpstart the ailing economy and secure a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund over three years.
The travel warnings also complicate Egypt’s struggle to revive its once-lucrative tourism industry. It has spent millions of dollars on upgrading security at its airports and tenaciously markets itself as a country safe for foreign tourists.
The industry has been decimated since a Russian airliner crashed a year ago in Sinai after it took off from the popular Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. All 224 people on board were killed. Russia said the plane was likely downed by a bomb and the Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Russia has since suspended all air links with Egypt, while Britain has halted flights to Sharm el-Sheikh.