02/11/2016

A triple crisis for President Al-Sissi

photo-edito-egypt

President Al-Sissi

By Chloé de Radzitzky

By welcoming foreign dignitaries last year, Sissi hoped to depict a positive image of Egypt. He wanted to present it as being a stable country ready to receive the foreign investors. Nevertheless after 3 years in power, Sissi’s government did not hold its promises of prosperity, generating anger among the population. The signs of the regime’s weaknesses multiply, suggesting that this one might be overcome. On October 12th, the interview of Tuktuk[1] driver had alone managed to shaken it; and the government displayed many efforts to compromise it. Few days later a high military representative was murdered in front of his residence, testifying of a security weakness. Even the most fervent partisans of the regime begin to recognize that the Egyptian situation is more than worying[2].

The problems which general Al Sissi, president of Egypt since May, 2014, faces are owed to a triple crisis which shakes its country. This one is economic, security and political and reinforce each other. On the security side, the regime fights different group armed in the Sinai since the coup d’état which dispossessed the former president Mohammed Morsi of his functions. The incapacity of the regime to overcome these anti-authority groups coupled with the recent murder of one of one of the highest military representatives in a secured district of Cairo highlights the weaknesses of the system.

These security problems contribute to deteriorate the country’s economic situation. Hence, it scares off the investors as well as tourists. The unemployment rate reached 12.5 % mid-2016 and is particularly high for what concerns women and young people[3]. Furthermore, there was an increase of 40.1 % in the prices of the consumer goods in September, an element which affects all strata of the Egyptian society[4].

To solve these problems, regime must profoundly reform itself. It would require, for example, the social abolition of the old contract trading the population’s support oil and food subsidies, as well as against jobs in the public sector. Subsidies represent the main social safety net in Egypt (and elsewhere in the region of the Middle East and North Africa). These measures are expensive and little effective because they do not target the poorest of the population as well as contribute to generate economic growth.

Instead of using funds to invest in human capital and to start social security reforms[5], the president spent 8 billion dollars to develop the Suez Canal. This initiative appeared to be ineffective so far, seeing that incomes from the canal felt by 2.1 pourcent during the first 8 months of year 2016. In addition, issues such as overvaluation of the Egyptian currency and overinvestment of the army in the private sector contribute to the inertia of the situation.  Financial support of the West and of the Gulf countries could have been a new opportunity to start reforms. Nevertheless, this foreign assistance could not be felt by the Egyptian population.

The economic situation became unbearable for the Egyptian society, and contributes to generate a new political crisis. The Egyptians are exhausted and new manifestations against the regime are only a matter of time. A public demonstration is planned on November 11th in Alexandria, an event already called the « revolution of the poor ». Furthermore, Sissi is increasingly politically marginalized on the international sphere. With reports signposting numerous violations of human rights, the West begin to wonder if it did not back the wrong horse, and fears new uprisings[6].

Numerous reforms are necessary so that Egypt can exit this period of crisis, reforms which the current government is not willing to implement. This one has neither the popularity neither the willingness to implement them.

References and useful links

[1] http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2016/10/17/en-egypte-la-colere-d-un-chauffeur-de-tuk-tuk-devenu-symbole-de-la-crise_5015311_3212.html

[2] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161020-the-beginnings-of-a-collapsing-regime-in-egypt/

 

[3] http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/egypt/overview#1

[4] http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2016/10/egypt-facing-crisis-161023174823446.html

[5] http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21703393-egypt-has-squandered-billions-dollars-aid-more-way-it

[6] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161020-the-beginnings-of-a-collapsing-regime-in-egypt/