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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Egyptian government has imposed travel restrictions on Egyptian citizens traveling to Turkey and Iraq

After several weeks of speculations in Egyptian society and in social networks Egyptian government has officially imposed new travel regulations for Egyptian citizens travelling to Turkey, Iraq and several other Middle Eastern countries.

Cairo International Airport
(Image: The Cairo Post)
Under the new government’s regulations Egyptian men aged 18-40 must obtain state security approval if they wish to travel to Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Jordan as well. This decision was taken by Egyptian government earlier this week and was officially announced on Saturday, 6 December, but it is still being discussed in the social media and is considered being a very controversial move of Egyptian authorities, restricting citizens from free travelling.

According to official spokesperson of Egyptian Ministry of Interior Hany Abdel-Latif, the new measure is aimed to prevent young Egyptian men from travelling to Iraq and Syria and joining militant groups, operating there within the ranks of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Thus, this decision was taken due to security reasons.

It’s worth mentioning that the numbers of young men from different Arabic countries including Egypt who joined ISIS during the recent months has significantly increased. In addition to that, local militant groups, operating mainly in Northern Sinai, pledged their allegiance to ISIS as well. The easiest and shortest way to the territories controlled by ISIS (parts of Syria and Iraq) is via Turkey, that’s why Egyptian government has imposed travel restrictions.

During the first day since the new regulations were imposed nearly 200 Egyptian citizens were denied the chance to travel to Turkey as they didn’t have state security approval.
New travel restrictions apply also to Syria and Iraq. Similar but lighter restrictions apply to Egyptian workers travelling to Jordan, but it doesn’t affect tourists, businessmen, doctors, professors, scientists and other professionals.

Thus, this decision was taken due to security purposes and it is currently unclear when the restrictions could be lifted.

It's worth mentioning also that relations between Turkey and Egypt have significantly deteriorated since Egyptian Islamist backed President Mohamed Morsy was ousted in 2013 and remain tense toll now.