mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
Egypt in Turmoil
Crunch Time for Sisi in Egypt?

The Wall Street Journal today offers a troubling look at Egypt’s economic woes. As the Sisi government seeks to get its fiscal house in order through unpopular austerity measures, inflation is soaring and middle-class Egyptians continue to feel the pinch:

Inflation in Egypt hit its highest level this decade because of a weaker currency and slashed state assistance, escalating concerns about the economic health of the Arab world’s most-populous nation.

The annual urban inflation rate increased to 28.1% in January on higher food-and-beverage prices, Egypt’s statistics agency said on Saturday. Egypt’s headline inflation was at 23.3% a month earlier, according to data from the central bank, up from 19.4% in November, when Egypt floated its currency and allowed it to fall more than 50% against the U.S. dollar.

The steep drop in the Egyptian pound’s value has made imports more expensive, while other recent government measures such as a cut in subsidies for fuel, the introduction of a value-added tax and increases in import tariffs have sharply increased the cost of living for the country’s largely working- and middle-class people.

We can’t now know how this will work out. Inflation has sparked protests in Egypt before, but many Egyptians are tired of protests. Protests against Mubarak were exhilarating back in the day, but the result was, first, an economic and tourism crash; second, the failed government of the inept Morsi and the not-ready-for-prime-time Muslim Brotherhood; and third, a wave of repression and austerity under Sisi. Stability looks like what the country wants and needs more than anything else, and Sisi and the army remain the only forces remotely capable of providing it.

Even so, the economy is on dangerous ground. The potential for recovery is there, but the world is unstable these days, and Egypt’s fragile prospects could be hit by anything from conflict between the U.S. and Iran in the Gulf to some kind of global trade war to a eurozone crisis that hikes interest rates.

Human rights advocates and many others in the West can’t forget the repression and brutality that accompanied the Sisi crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, but it remains true that the health, stability and success of the Sisi government in Egypt is absolutely critical to what’s left of the hopes for a more peaceful and stable Middle East.

Let’s hope Team Trump can stop with the infighting and leaking long enough to focus on getting the job done in Egypt; America needs to do its part to help the Sisi government make Egypt great again.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • FriendlyGoat

    Does anyone recall what Trump voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania were asking Team Trump to do for the purpose of making Egypt great again? While geo-strategists such as TAI can appreciate why helping Egypt not re-descend to economic chaos or Islamic political chaos is a worthwhile thought, my recollection is that the theme heard here, sold here and bought here was “America First”. So, what, exactly is Team Trump likely to do for Egypt?

    • ——————————

      “So, what, exactly is Team Trump likely to do for Egypt?”

      More than Obama ever did for anything….

    • Psalms564

      As long as he doesn’t do what Obama did, and support a violent terrorist organization like Muslim Brotherhood, we should be fine. I mean, you were concerned when Obama was doing it? You are, after all, a seeker of truth, not a mindless talking points repeating tool. Or was I misled about that?

      • FriendlyGoat

        President Obama hoped for sensible secular governments to emerge from democratic elections in Islamic places such as Egypt and Libya, just as President Bush hoped for the same in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ultimately, President Trump will be obligated to support the same.

        TAI says “America should do its part to make Egypt great again”. I don’t know what that is and I don’t think the average Trump voter does either.

        • Psalms564

          Obama supported Muslim Brotherhood, a known terrorist organization. He always did have a soft spot for them. He will have to answer for that. Genesis 12:3 assures us that he will. Being a church man, I hope you won’t begrudge me quoting the Scripture here.
          “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” I’m glad men of faith like us would never seek to ban those who are willing to look up to the Lord in their time of need.
          “TAI says “America should do its part to make Egypt great again”—–now—–with Al Sisi already president there. I don’t know what “America’s part” is supposed to be and I don’t think the average Trump voter does either.” It means sending them money. They get their military assistance but they obviously need more. Writing them a check directly may rub people the wrong way. US Government buying wheat from American farmers at X and then selling it at X/2 to Egypt will never make news at any level. In general, when there’s a question about how to help someone, be it person or country, in 90% of cases it is money. Of course, most pain and sorrow comes from those problems that money cannot solve.

          • FriendlyGoat

            The thing is, your president campaigned on anything and everything BUT writing new checks to Egypt. Not only does it contradict the spirit of his “America First” campaign, but we have a spotty history of doing well by supporting dictators in that region. Too much USA involvement with keeping our “preferred” leader in power can backfire disastrously as it did with the Shah of Iran followed by the 1979 Islamist takeover of that country.

            As for Obama, he hoped for far better democratic results than the election of the MB in 2011. “Supporting” them was only a matter of trying to honor what the people had chosen—–a behavior usually associated with all cheerleaders for democracy.

          • Psalms564

            How is ensuring the stability of shipping through the Suetz canal not in American interests? This IS putting America first. America’s interests are many and they are varied. I also don’t recall Trump running against dollar diplomacy, a craft that has been practiced for many millennia. He just said that everything we do is done with America First attitude. To reduce it to complete isolationism is silly.
            Also, too little involvement in Lybia, with Obama proudly leading from behind, did not result in a Jeffersonian diplomacy springing forth. I’m sure Bibi will tell Donald when they meet how essential Egypt is.
            Listen, if it was up to me, I would led all those useless ME mofoz starve. Alas, it is not up to me. Think of it as your beloved welfare system. More successful supporting the less successful and so on.

          • FriendlyGoat

            “Listen, if it was up to me, I would led all those useless ME mofoz starve.”

            You are expressing the sentiment which most of the Trump supporters in the heartland thought they heard from Mr. Trump. This is why I find it hard to imagine the USA sending Egypt the scope of aid which may be needed for long-term stability, per this article.

          • Psalms564

            This is where I hope we have intelligent people in our government service that realize that selling surplus wheat at below market prices is a small price to pay to not have ISIS ruling Egypt.
            I’m not saying we should give them a blank check. We should give them enough aid to feed themselves. People with full bellies are a LOT less likely to riot.
            Also, you do realize how crazy you sound when you write things like “You are expressing the sentiment which most of the Trump supporters in the heartland thought they heard from Mr. Trump.”???? You are imagining yourself to have an ability to know how others perceive things. I’m not sure you realize that by claiming to know what is in the heart of man you are literally claiming Godlike power. I mean, I resisted the urge to comment on it the first time, but since it appeared to be your next favorite thing, I had to cut it off.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Surely you realize that “America First” can sound somewhat like “led (sic) all those useless ME mofoz starve”, and not necessarily much like “We need to give Egypt whatever aid it needs—–maybe a whole lot——to keep it stable.”

          • Disappeared4x

            USN deploying destroyers, including USS Cole, and MEU, to Red Sea. Will also benefit tourism in Sharm el Sheik. Maybe St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai will also re-open to tourism.
            From Feb. 11, 2017: http://www.defensenews.com/articles/us-beefing-up-red-sea-presence
            had just read this at RCDefense.com

    • Rodney

      Trump’s job is not to make Egypt great again but to help keep it stable. There are many reasons to do this, not just campaign promises:

      1. Humanitarian reasons. As we have seen in Syria and other places, instability tends to cause humanitarian crises. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
      2. Trade. The Suez canal is a vital trade route. Disruption of it could undermine international trade on which the global economy depends.
      3. Military transport. The Suez canal shortens the time for our east coast naval assets to get into the Indian Ocean. It also allows naval assets to quickly move between the Mediterranean basin and the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. When I was in the Navy, I made four transits through the canal, one of which was a short notice run from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea to give President Clinton more flexibility to deal with some monkey business by Saddam Hussein. By the way, the canal does not give much room to maneuver, and ships in it are sitting ducks. As far as the canal is concerned, stable is good.

      In summary, instability in Egypt can make President Trump’s job more difficult, and it would be prudent to promote stability there.

      • FriendlyGoat

        No argument from me. Sounds like the logic Hillary might have put up on the subject for the purpose of telling truth and electing truth. But Trump did not sell his voters in such a way. So now when he goes back to them to talk about humanitarian aid AFTER his election—-in ways he would never have mentioned BEFORE his election, there is a disconnect of messaging to his voters.

  • Disappeared4x

    “Human rights advocates and many others in the West can’t forget the repression and brutality that accompanied the Sisi crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood” delegitimizes the author of this TAI post. The author needs a Real Education, starting with Sayyid Qutb.

    • Tom

      Eh. Something tells me the Egyptian sweeps got more people than just Brotherhood hardliners.

      • Disappeared4x

        Probably, but the author specifically cites MB. Obama44 made it a priority to delegitimize al-Sisi, a policy and legacy that has hurt Egypt since 2013, when al-Sisi deposed Morsi, after the Tamarod petition and mass protests.

  • Anthony
  • Mohammed Hossam

    What crunch times !! You are so optimistic. Sisi has lost feelings of his surroundings. He does not feel what his people are suffering. His end is soon.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service