100 Days into Egypts Post-Turmoil State

.. and the ‘military Junta’ has succeeded to reassure Egyptians and foreigners alike that life goes on at the banks of the river Nile.

The elected ‘dictator’ Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi – this is, how the press, foreign and partly local, would like to see the president of Egypt perceived as, wastes no time pushing the country back to where it had been before the outbreak of the social and political unrest back in January 2011 and far beyond, in economical terms.
In his inauguration days, president Sisi came back to what he stated already in his election campaign: a visible improvement of living conditions for the neglected majority of Egyptian citizens will need at least two years time.
A very ambitious goal, given the hostility toward the president still looming among all those who feel taken aback by the court verdicts and trials against protestors, many of whom did not engage in burning churches and police stations, assaulting and killing policemen, did not throw Molotov cocktails or destroyed University offices or did not throw stones and curses at security personal, burning police cars during the interim reign post June 30th and lesser so, after the presidential elections in late May 2014 and those who resent that of all prospects, Egypt’s majority opted for a ‘military state’.

What makes Sisi’s presidency a monstrous challenge is the size of the predicaments he is surrounded with.

While any president would have to live up to find a way to ensure that social betterment will become a steady and reliable extent of his commitment, Al-Sisi chose – unlike any of his predecessors since 60 years, not only not to give in to blackmail from the ousted Brotherhood, but to eradicate them as a societal force. He called for root-treatment and repeated his oath to the people of Egypt that he will ‘eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood’.

Prior to the election Al-Sisi anticipated terrorism wildfire. However it would scare me [and proof how little we get to know from what is really going on] that Al-Sisi foresaw already this unfolding and traumatizing horror which reached a magnitude that it demands all forces of the free and even ‘not so free’ world to unite. Unlikely alliances are being forged to combat the unthinkable which is jeopardizing our cosmopolitan self-understanding.

While Egyptians had been busy with election-campaigns and demonstrations, still in Syria and already in Libya and Iraq the now well known ‘Islamic State’ group & Co started to plan for a [ what they call] ‘Caliphate’, following the agenda of Sayyed El-Qotb, the ideological founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, which probably should have had its preliminary capital in Egypt, if it had not been for the Egyptians, who, once the speeches of the elected Muslim-brothers grew bolder and ulterior motives other than building a nations state, based on the principles of democracy became obvious,  run out into the streets in millions, to prevent this from happening.

And then there is Egypt in a shattered economical state with all the bruises and scars, three years of turmoil had inflicted on each and every individual and company, where every single one of the 23,780,104 voters who has put his faith into a fairly unknown Field Marshall Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, a quiet and rather earnest man who seldom appears in public, already known for clear, yet short and determined speech – gently intoned and – this needs to be highlighted – never seems to make a promise, he already knows he cannot possibly keep.

The president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil Al-Sisi, seems to be either a genius or a djinn or .. pragmatic enough to share powers and responsibilities.

While one can read about how the ‘junta’ muted every voice of criticism, that people don’t criticize because they ‘know they will be imprisoned’, that people feel more suppressed than ever, .. I can relate to that. I too am suppressing a lot of commentary. For the first time in 20 years I only dare to speak freely in the presence of members of the security forces or close friends. I grew tired of discussing with people who are not willing to see that without considering what is in favor of what should be there cannot be a will be.

And the future is taking shape already..

While the Egyptian security forces are deployed to grant citizens the feeling of safety and protection –  within the past three months 16 extremists have been arrested; 494 arrested for inciting violence; 10 arrested for arson; 142 arrested for carrying out assaults on police; 153 arrested for blocking public roads and disrupting traffic; and the arrest of members of 44 heavily armed terrorist cells – breathtaking projects are being brought on their way.
One of those mega projects is the extension of the Suez-Canal, projected to be finished after one year. While I don’t have the expertise to judge the doabilty, what stunned me is the spirit and decisiveness that one can easily see. The new project aims at digging a waterway 72 kilometres long to run parallel to the current canal, every day 1 million cubic meters of land will have to be removed. Out of 60 Billion EGP [=$8.4 billion],  EGP 6 billion worth of Suez Canal certificates sold on day one, according to the Central bank of Egypt.

The energy crises which started to hit Egypt in summer 2013 has become better and worse in the same time. What is better is, that the electricity outages have become more predictable, what is worse is, that they last longer and appear more frequent. The Ministry of Electricity has said it is trying to conserve power in the face of fuel shortages and sabotage attempts on power lines. The good news is: unlike during the Morsi tenure, now fuel is available and nobody has to queues for hours to refill his tank. – This is to a big part owed to Saudi Arabia, who not only had been the first, to congratulate Al-Sisi for the presidency, but is helping the country with enormous financial and fuel contributions. It had been King Abdullah from Saudi-Arabia, who called for a GCC donor conference to help Egypt get back on her feet again.

Egypt itself has called for a national donor fund – “Sunduk Tahya Masr” – to which Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has contributed not only half of his presidential  income, but as well half of his life-time wealth upon anncouncment. I followed this up on one of the local Egyptian TV-channels and was taken by surprise, at how many individuals called and made their donations, with amounts as small as 50.- EGP, some as high as 500.000.000.- EGP. As well other solidarity initiatives deserve to be noticed: Chairman of the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) Hisham Okasha, has signed a cooperation protocol with Mohsen Mahgoub, Chairman of Misr El Kheir Foundation, in order to pay off the debts of borrowers. The protocol comes as part of the Bank’s focus to help poor Egyptian families. Some state regulated initiatives to find ways to fill the accumulated suffocating deficits lead to massive discord: after the onset of the revolution the wages & salaries of the University staff and employees had been raised about three times since, and significantly. The idea, to deduct 10% of a monthly salary had been met with such overwhelming discontent, that the payment of the salaries had to be postponed.. pending! [#Al-Azhar]

The economical situation has derailed during the three years, that have changed Egypt forever.- Now the government fails to abide by payment schedule with foreign partners. Government bodies owe Petroleum Authority EGP 163bn..  But business investment are being made, huge  factories are being established providing 10.’s of thousands of employment opportunities, generating sub- and side business and eventually filling the national treasury, as well exports are raising again, people are again crowding the big supermarkets, which had been frighteningly empty during usual peak hours for months..

All in all: I do not perceive the presidency of Al-Sisi as authoritarian or – which is downright ridiculous – as ‘dictatorial’. A lot of major economical contracts and projects had been revitalized, newly established and are underway. No human being can accomplish all that alone [=with complicity] , when from day one of the presidency ‘crisis management’ is the challenge.

Shortly after Sisi had been inaugurated  the war in Gaza broke out. Egypt managed to regain regional and international respect and weight for its role in mediating a truce from a war, where the role of Egypt had been predefined as the ‘villain’. In Libya, thousands of Egyptian workers had been trapped in the countries turmoil unable to flee back home due to lack of financial means. The government took care.

Egypt’s manpower ministry and many labor activists agree that the country’s labor legislation is inadequate and needs reform. There are ministers and unions and committees, that take care of this. They are discussing controversies and I’m not under the impression that either party is shy of bringing in their expectations. All in accordance with international laws. Egypt knows it needs to reform and adjusts and eradicate old baggage and counterproductive measures. Since a couple of days there is a presidential advisory committee. Egyptian high profile representatives from all fields will be part of shaping Egypt’s future.

If someone still insists Egypt were a military-dictatorship ..  it’s freedom of expression: ..and in the meantime.. people resort more and more to information, they sense is reliable – which is the abundant use of freedom of choice..

Show me what you do so I can respect you.

In light of ‘the ice-bucket challenge’: I like “the civil-society-challenge” which has started for Egypt under president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. ‫#‏تحيا_مصر‬

 

 

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