Interpreting Middle East Economic News and Analyzing Market Trends

Hey Egypt: How’s Sisi working out for you?

Cairo Egypt

Photo Source: Global Finance

 

In May 2014, Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, former chief of the Egyptian military, became the country’s president after a nationwide election.  The main reasons for his rise to power stem from the wide-spread belief that the former president, Mohammed Morsi, was corrupt and was damaging the economy.  Rising food prices and unemployment coupled with an increasing number of power outages further reinforced Egyptians’ view of Morsi.  What has changed in Egypt since Sisi’s election?

 

 

It turns out that Sisi has been making matters worse, not better, for the average Egyptian in the name of making things better further down the road:

 

Daily power cuts have become commonplace even in the capital Cairo but on Thursday extensive outages hit about half of Egypt, causing blackouts, halting factories and shutting part of the Cairo metro system.

The disruption sparked an uproar in the Arab world’s most populous country, where energy is a politically explosive issue.

Energy shortages and outages were a key factor in deepening discontent with Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, who faced mass protests before Sisi, then army chief, ousted him last year.

In a candid television address on Saturday, Sisi said the dilapidated state of Egypt’s power grid was the result of years of underinvestment and admitted there was no instant solution.

“Have we developed our electricity production to meet our needs? Made stations to meet our needs? This did not happen because the financing required is large,” Sisi said.

“We must understand that matter cannot at all be resolved and remedied overnight.”

Read the Full story from Reuters.

 

And then there is this:

 

Egyptians woke up on Saturday to the news that petrol prices had risen by up to 78%, part of a broader swath of price increases that the government says is necessary to boost Egypt’s ailing economy.

Food and energy subsidies traditionally eat up a quarter of state spending and the government is taking steps to reform its subsidy programme and revive an economy badly scarred by three-and-a-half years of political upheaval.

Successive governments have avoided such a decision, fearful of a potential backlash from a population already faced with rising food prices and an unemployment rate of 13.4 percent. More than a quarter of Egypt’s 82-million strong population lives in poverty.

How the country reacts to the new price hikes, just one prong of the government’s broader austerity strategy, will provide clear indications of the strength of Sisi’s popularity. Although he was elected with over 96 percent of a public vote in May, turnout was sluggish. A year after the overthrow of former president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt remains jaded and divided.

Read the full story from The Guardian.

 

Elected with over 96% of the public vote?  Really?

 

Field Marshal Sisi courted the people, crooned to them. But the wafer-like thinness of this amour was exposed on the first day of presidential elections, on Monday, when the masses failed to show up. Television anchors and media celebrities became hysterical, berating, lambasting and insulting the Egyptian people for their “apathy”.

By day two – hastily declared a holiday – huge speakers mounted on patrolling vans alternated love songs to the military with rants at people to “leave their air conditioning” and come out and vote. Shopping malls closed early. The government swore it would fine non-voters half a month’s minimum wage. Even so, they had to extend voting to a third day to get the numbers.

Read the full story from The Guardian.

 

There’s your fair and free election!  As if it couldn’t get any worse, Sisi also went head on with the media closing down newspapers and televisions stations that went against his views… unlike the ‘fanatic’ Morsi who allowed media to freely express their views.

 

Foreign Policy Magazine sums up the situation in Egypt the best: 

 

“At its core, Egypt has emerged as the region’s ultimate status quo country focused on anti-militancy and anti-Islamism, rejecting regime change in all its forms and firmly wedded to Arab states’ territorial integrity and fixed borders. “

 

And then there’s this from the Washington Post:

Many members of Congress also believe that by backing the Egyptian military they are helping Israel, which, through the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has actively lobbied Congress for full restoration of military aid. Even though the Morsi government did not pull out of the Camp David Accords or take actions hostile to Israel, the mere presence of a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt frightened the Israeli government.

To Israel, which has never supported democracy anywhere in the Middle East except Israel, the presence of a brutal military dictatorship bent on the extermination of Islamism is not only tolerable but desirable.

 

So to all you Egyptians out there who believed in the revolution and believed in Sisi… you were fooled!  There was no revolution and there is no change.