Naturally, there is a lot of noise, when it comes to elections. Yet: when it comes to Egypt, internationally the opposition gets more attention than the president, as mainstream media still label El-Sisi an autocratic leader. Especially now, El-Sisi has been ‘confirmed’ to be a ‘dictator with an iron fist’, who seeks to have no candidate next to him. Stories, supporting this view in local and international media are manifold, giving as little facts as necessary, to confirm this viewpoint.
I know plenty of people, especially from the middle-class – suffering severe loss of financial care-freeness, who defy and despise literally every achievement, this government has produced. As I outlined in 2014, they are hit hardest. The devaluation of the Egyptian Pound has lead to prices roughly doubled, while salaries in the private sectors didn’t or companies lost their business due the horribly rough time, the political upheavals mercilessly imposed on some industries. They have to handle that school fees have increased [one million children go to private schools], all sorts of foods have become a matter of reconsideration, electricity, gasoline and everything else one can think of grew costly, as since over 30 years, the country dependents on imports. Some of people are clinging to a ‘military-dictatorship’ narrative, which ‘strives to make the state their prey’, warming their thoughts with emigration plans. Interestingly, the people from either the upper class or the poor like and support the change. The rich do so, as they see that the process of transformation takes decades and they welcome the idea, to reside in an overall respectable country. The poor do so, as they understand that El-Sisi is setting the stage to elevate their homeland to the grandeur they know from history. It goes without saying, that of course one can find rich and privileged people complaining about the president too. For the first time the fight against corruption seems to be taken seriously. And of course not all poor people cheer El-Sisi. But most do. I know that for a fact, as I’m coming around so many people from so many walks of life due to my profession.
Ever since president El-Sisi and his government in 2014 started to not only clear Egypt of the shambles, the country has been shattered with, through unrest, demonstrations and violent defiance of abolishing the rule of the Muslimbrotherhood, later culminating in terror attacks and consecutively a derailed economy (the so called Arab-Spring, which started to ‘blossom’ in the biggest MENA state from January 2011), this president, coming from a modest background himself, has had and still has a vision for his homeland. He and his government worked towards putting Egypt back on the list of secure countries. Parallel to this, El-Sisi has pressured his ministers to built the structures, which are necessary to transform – what some saw as an eternal corrupt ‘shithole’ – into a sovereign state for mature citizens, as outlined in El-Sisi’s vision 2030. On a scale from 1 – 100, this government has accomplished 20. There are still petty quarters all over Egypt, there is still corruption, there are still petty public hospitals, public education still leaves a lot to be desired, as the ministry is in the phase of searching for the best role-model to be implemented nationwide and the list goes on and on.
What most don’t know: every government in the past has undertaken steps to reform the country. This time however, there is a president who has made the welfare of Egypt his mission and the international situation is working in Egypt’s favor.
Below follows an article, published in the February edition of Al-Mutaqa.
By Volkhard Windfuhr
The struggle on the economic front goes on. The inherited impediments still exist, the consequences of the overdue although bitter devaluation of the Egyptian pound and its price hike directly affecting the average Egyptian citizen are still being felt. But those who foresaw – and in some local and foreign quarters sadistically hoped for bloody uprisings and serious clashes with the security forces just do not take place.
The reason is clear: There is no miraculous solution in sight for an over night rapid overall relief on all fronts. Decade long criminally neglected shortcomings accumulated finally forced the government to cut the devilish road to bankruptcy and de facto paralysis and immobilization of the state. A very similar nasty situation happened in the seventies and eighties of the 19th century, when uncontrolled overspending and a terrible indebtedness caused a complete collapse of public and private finances. The viceroy (khedive) Ismail abdicated leaving the country to direct subjugation of foreign powers and tough humiliating European control of the finance sector. Far sighted decision makers of today’s Egypt were aware of the approaching financial and thus socio-political catastrophe and took bold although unpopular decisions. These brave people risked their reputation and public anger for the sake of saving their country from being drawn into the brink of a satanic precipice opening the gate to hell and derailment – not ruling out the breakup and splitting of the society, civil war and the exposure to foreign powers impatiently waiting for a chance to finally getting the Arab World’s largest country under their malicious control. Those after all dumb and irresponsible Islamic extremists, who gained control of Egypt six years ago by virtue of a tricky cheap propaganda campaign and clear cut election fraud – as explicitly and irrefutably demonstrated and published by the daily newspaper “Al Wafd” (mouthpiece of the well known influential liberal Wafd party) enraged the public soon after their takeover by a tough one-party-dictatorship, the exclusion of any liberal politicians in running the country , physically paralyzing the constitutional court and finally by declaring war against the Egyptian identity. Ex president Mursi told me and other journalists in all frankness “We should not tolerate any Egyptian identity and concentrate instead on our Islamic identity “wa-bass” (“only that and basta!)
No wonder that the Egyptians of all social, political and confessional layers exploded in anger and protest and on June 30th in 2013 took to the streets all over Egypt. More than 25 million citizens staged historically unheard-of mass demonstrations asking the armed forces – which had protected the revolution of January 2011 – to liberate Egypt from the rule of the Moslem Brotherhood. The army command hesitated, but finally gave in and intervened peacefully and terminated the Brotherhood’s grip on Egypt..
The response was blind terror, 130 churches went up into flames, Copts and other Egyptian Christians were assassinated, falsified “news” were and still are fabricated and dispersed here and there. But to no avail. The Egyptian spirit, which dates back to ancient Egypt and still is a valid moral codex enriched by Christian and Islamic values, does not accept the satanic game of the Moslem Brotherhood and their foreign clients, financiers and decision makers. Therefore any attempt to “reconcile” and “re-integrate” the Brotherhood in the social and political life of Egypt is equivalent with a frank insistence on civil war. They will not be given that disastrous chance. Those who invoke “human rights” in context with the foreign dominated evil Moslem Brotherhood are either ignorant or have other preferences in mind. In the light of the present situation in the Arab world and in Egypt, people remember Egypt’s legendary president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who concentrated his efforts and misericordia on the underprivileged , the jobless, the poor.
He was no political or economic superman, but he was a true nationalist, believed in the social justice and took quite a few radical decisions to terminate the rule of a powerful very rich elite, introduced compulsory totally gratis school and university education and built many thousand affordable ‘popular housing units, initiated an overdue agrarian reform policy including the distribution of large areas of cultivable rural areas and enhanced a vast program of industrializing Egypt. The unemployment rate was zero. He soon became the most beloved leader of Egypt in modern history. Of course, many of Nasser’s decisions were and are reconsidered or re-adapted. But his fight against corruption and exploitation remains a part of his permanent moral and physical achievements. The very fact that none of his children or relatives were given special status or even government positions is an additional explication why “Gamal” is again, or better still extremely popular. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi apparently feels a human closeness to Egypt’s and the Arab World’s unforgotten “habib al malayeen” “the leader beloved by millions of his co-countrymen”. For a good reason: The social and moral heritage of his fabulous predecessor is a permanent powerful and convincing admonishment. Do what you are morally convinced of, as long it serves the people, especially the underprivileged.
Without adventuring a long term prediction the chances of success are not bad at all: The grand national projects are bearing fruit. The enlarging and deepening of the Suez Canal – the country’s beneficial life line, and the success of the economic development zones gives proof of a correct investment policy. In a few months the exploitation of the rich natural gas fields in the Mediterranean is going to start and probably changes Egypt’s financial situation for good.
The World Bank and other international bodies express their satisfaction with Cairo’s economic and financial policies.
In the meantime the war inevitable war against terrorism continues with force and conviction. Europe assists within its logistics means. “We have a common goal” said the German chancellor Angela Merkel. “I believe in the necessity of our common effort”.
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