SEDAT LAÇİNER

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SEDAT LAÇİNER
February 25, 2013, Monday

From spring to chaos: Egypt

The Egyptian public ousted Hosni Mubarak amid great hope. Thus ended the dictatorship that had lasted almost 65 years. When Mohammed Morsi sat in the presidential seat as the fifth president of Egypt on June 30, 2012, the lands of Egypt -- maybe for the first time in its thousands of years of history -- met a president who had taken office through a democratic election.

The election and democracy were good, but Morsi had “a small flaw”: He was a part of the Muslim Brotherhood; in other words, according to some people he was an Islamist, even a radical Islamist. Didn't the United States and the West endure Mubarak's dictatorship for many years in order to not let the Islamists come to power?

The fear of Islamist Egypt

In fact, at the start Israel saw the Arab Spring as a clear threat; as for the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, Israel interpreted it as a great failure of Obama. However, when we look at what has happened since the elections, we see that Egypt is being dragged from Arab Spring into Arab Chaos. This situation may satisfy some states, of course. The ones that do not want to see a powerful and independent government in Egypt may prefer chaos. Apart from the external efforts at destabilization, the discontentedness of the Egyptian liberal, secular groups and the minorities nourishes the chaos in Egypt. These groups are opposed to the fact that only the Islamists get the gains of the revolution that was achieved together.

The other factor that feeds the disorder and anarchy and makes the country ungovernable are the economic conditions. The incidents that toppled Mubarak did great harm to tourism, which is Egypt's biggest income channel, and tourism revenue fell by 30 percent. First, the incidents that started with debates about the constitution and, second, the new wave of violence in Egypt have made this damage to tourism permanent. Please note that Egypt is a country that relies on imports. Egyptians import 40 percent of what they eat, for instance. As for grain, the amount is almost 60 percent. The worst rate is unemployment; one out of every four young people is unemployed. Those who have a job are underpaid. Under these circumstances, Morsi had to apply to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The aid expected from the IMF is $4.8 billion. But the IMF has one condition: austerity. Yet, maybe the most important reason for the current events on the streets is that people are dissatisfied with their income. On top of that, if new saving measures are taken, it is not hard to predict what will happen in the streets of Egypt.

The Egyptian model?

In the era of Mubarak, the agreement that the United States and Israel had with the dictator was keeping Egypt under control. In this new period, the internal disorder and the dependency of the Egyptian economy on the IMF seem to take this role. In other words, because of its strategic importance, Egypt will never be left alone.

On the other hand, it is not possible for President Morsi and his team to survive just by blaming external enemies. First, Morsi needs to make Egypt's institutions work. When doing this, unlike in the past, he must use fewer police and soldiers, and he must bring more prosperity and democracy. Certainly, the other Muslim countries should also help Morsi in order to form an Egyptian model for the Arab Spring. If Egypt achieves economic success with political development like Turkey, then we can be optimistic and hopeful about the future of the Middle East.

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