A WaPo story points to the cancer eating away at Egypt’s slender chances for a happy democratic transition: the people want bread and it isn’t clear how they will get it.
As the WaPo points out, Egypt depends on imports to feed its people. The Nile isn’t enough anymore; 80 percent of its food comes from abroad. Most Egyptians are desperately poor by world standards; the government subsidizes the cost of basic food so that the average Egyptian can afford it.
These days, the global price of food is rising, making the cost of food subsidies go up. Egypt’s government is running out of money; tourism and foreign investment are down and the economy is in trouble. Tax money isn’t coming in, and unemployment is high — making more people more dependent on subsidized food.
It’s hard to see where this goes. In a world of tight budgets and frayed nerves, there aren’t many international donors looking to increase their contributions to Egypt. The arrest of US citizens working with Egyptian NGOs makes large cutbacks more likely than large increases when it comes to US aid. There are no signs of an economic turnaround coming to Egypt in time to make a difference, and world food prices appear to be headed higher.
Watch Egypt. The real revolution may still lie ahead.