The economic crisis and social restlessness

Hani Raslan
Tuesday 20 Sep 2016

Some point to foreign media criticisms as evidence of a conspiracy against Egypt. But without real reform undertaken, we have only ourselves to blame

Severe criticism of the situation in Egypt published by the internationally renowned Economist magazine launched a huge wave of reactions.

Some found in it support and backing for criticisms circulating on a wide scale of the way and style of President El-Sisi's management of the economic crisis and its social and political repercussions.

On the other hand, others wanted to use the criticism as new presumptuous evidence on a conspiracy in the West and what is called a soft siege on Egypt. They see that what the Western media is insisting on gives an indication that this soft siege and encirclement has started a new phase, more revealing about implicit Western objectives. That is, shortening El-Sisi's presidential term or at least preventing him from being re-elected.

The confirmed truth is that Egypt is living a manifold economic crisis originating from several reasons that the incumbent regime should not be held accountable for entirely. For the inherited structural defect was entrenched in the Egyptian economy across several decades. Add to this the loss of most tourism revenues, the collapse of the exportation process and the decline in foreign investment in the light of political and security instability since the January Revolution until now.

However, this does not excuse President El-Sisi's regime's responsibility. High hopes were raised following the 30 June Revolution, all of which centered on the beginning of a comprehensive reform process to put in place new foundations for confronting the state of paralysis and ineffectiveness hitting every corner in Egypt.

It was anticipated that President El-Sisi would carry out administrative reform and reclaim legitimacy, efficacy and capability for governmental institutions, while they perform the functions assigned to them. This was to be accompanied by clear policies to fight structural corruption, which El-Sisi himself acknowledged more than once, facing the cliquey tendencies and alliances between the governmental bureaucracy and certain segments of beneficiaries and profiteers, and terminating the pattern of crony capitalism.

All that was possible in view of the legitimacy and popularity Field Marshal El-Sisi acquired in a certain moment following the 30 June Revolution as well as the constitutional legitimacy gained through popular referendum. It provided him with a capability to carry out reformulation and restructuring processes with an acceptable prospect of success.

However, things stayed the same and there was not a single reform process undertaken, or any real fight against corruption. Instead, so-called great national projects emerged, draining the aid packages offered by sister countries to Egypt, which were in essence a strong and direct expression of Egypt’s magnitude and the importance of its stability for the whole region.

The most dangerous thing that Egypt suffers from right now is the loss of hope, where there is no clear vision of the future or of the measures to be taken, or of the horizon they lead to. The great majority, represented by the poor and middle classes with all their variations, began to groan from the pressures they are subjected to, and which are driving them to the bottom day after day, to the extent that there is no breathing space for some. The situation is getting worse with the collapse of services and rampant corruption in every corner and facility.

Despite all that, successive demands are made to those sectors to have patience and endure for the sake of the homeland, and in order to pass this stage. This is permissible and acceptable provided that transparency, accountability, a clear vision and justice in distributing reform burdens exist. All these are absent from the current scene.

Hence, we should look deeply at our problems and mistakes before blaming outsiders or talking about sieges and conspiracies.

Short link: