Author Topic: Egypt  (Read 160946 times)


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Re: Egypt
« Reply #400 on: February 14, 2019, 05:47:12 AM »
***Egypt pumps poison gas into terror tunnel from Gaza – 9 Muslim terrorists missing***

That WILL  work.

You mean they do not offer the Palestinians jobs benefits
and a chance to vote for liberals ?


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Stratfor: Pompeo threatens Egypt with CAATSA
« Reply #401 on: April 11, 2019, 05:15:05 PM »
What Happened

During a Senate budget hearing on April 9, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States would penalize Egypt under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) should Egypt buy Russian Su-35 fighter jets. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators sent a letter to Pompeo before the hearing, urging him to pressure Egypt to avoid the arms deal while Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was in Washington. Pompeo responded to the senators' concerns by saying he believed Egypt understood the warning, and he said he was hopeful it would not go through with any such deal.
Why It Matters

The United States has so far been hesitant to use CAATSA-related sanctions against friendly countries for fear of irking its allies. As a result, there are signs countries have ignored the 2017 law, as evidenced by Turkey's current arms deal with Russia. But now, Washington is using CAATSA to threaten one of its strongest allies in the Middle East. In doing so, the United States is likely looking to boost CAATSA's credibility — using Egypt as an example to warn others that just because it's provided waivers in the past, doesn't mean it will do so in the future.

The United States' threat of imposing CAATSA-related sanctions against Egypt could be the start of a more robust U.S. push to combat Russia's global influence.

This is also the first time the United States has attempted to block an arms deal between Russia and Egypt in recent years, and could indicate the start of a more robust U.S. push to stem Moscow's global influence. In which case, Washington could begin coming down on other allies that are seeking to purchase military weapons from Russia, such as Saudi Arabia, India, Serbia and Algeria. The move also signals that the United States believes its relationship with Egypt is strong enough to withstand CAATSA-related sanctions, underlining the closeness displayed during al-Sisi’s recent visit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

CAATSA was initially passed into law to impose sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia in an effort to combat these countries' global influences. The first CAATSA-related sanctions were applied to punish China for importing Russian arms in September 2018. The act is currently being used against Turkey as it attempts to finish an arms deal with Russia to buy the S-400 missile system. Over the past two years, other U.S. allies have repeatedly received waivers protect them from coming under CAATSA-related sanctions.

In their letter, the U.S. senators also urged Pompeo to press al-Sisi on Egypt's human rights record and the detention of American citizens. Pompeo deflected these concerns at the Senate hearing, saying he did not want to characterize the Egyptian leader as a "tyrant."


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GPF: Egypt
« Reply #403 on: January 03, 2020, 10:28:05 AM »
January 3, 2020   Open as PDF

In Egypt, el-Sissi’s Economic Vision Falls Flat
By: Hilal Khashan

Since the 1952 military coup that overthrew the Egyptian monarchy, Egypt has had a long tradition of rule by military officers. The first three presidents from 1954 until 1981 (Mohammad Naguib, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat) were members of the Free Officers movement, which carried out the 1952 coup. After Sadat’s assassination in 1981, air force commander and vice president Hosni Mubarak took office. In 2012, however, the election of Mohammed Morsi, a civilian with links to the Muslim Brotherhood, ended decades of military leadership.
The Egyptian military viewed Morsi with disdain; from its perspective, having a civilian president, especially one hailing from the Muslim Brotherhood, was unacceptable. And so, a year after Morsi’s election, he was ousted in a coup that involved the chief of General Staff and current President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, restoring the military’s prominent role in the country’s political affairs. Since then, el-Sissi has allowed the military to assume an ever-larger role in Egypt’s economy and introduced two massive projects that he promised would revive the country’s stagnant finances. These projects, however, have fallen flat.

A Legacy of Suspicion and Betrayal

El-Sissi has tried to avoid his predecessors’ mistakes. In 1953, Gen. Mohammad Naguib abrogated the monarchy and declared Egypt a republic. He believed the mission of the army had ended with the overthrow of King Farouk and wanted it to surrender political authority to civilians. Naguib’s preference for a civilian government did not suit Nasser, who overthrew him in 1954 and placed him under house arrest. Nasser also attempted to dismiss the chief of the General Staff, Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer, whom he blamed for the 1961 coup in Damascus that led to the dissolution of the United Arab Republic, a unified state consisting of Egypt and Syria. Nasser accused Amer of negligence and mistreatment of Syrian army officers. Amer, who enjoyed the full support of the Egyptian army, threatened to stage a coup and overthrow Nasser. The two men reached a compromise according to which Amer would not seek to oust Nasser from office, provided that he stayed out of military affairs. This arrangement worked until the 1967 Six-Day War, when Nasser finally decided to get rid of Amer after the humiliating military defeat.
When Amer attempted to launch a coup, Nasser had him arrested and eliminated him with a lethal dose of cyanide.
Sadat, who took over after Nasser’s death in 1970, had no tolerance for sharing power with political and military competitors. In May 1971, he launched what he called the Corrective Revolution and purged all rivals. After the 1973 war with Israel, Minister of Defense Gen. Ahmad Badawi, whom Egyptians admired as a war hero and a man of good intentions, disapproved of Sadat’s decision to turn to the U.S. and downscale Egypt’s political and military ties with the Soviet Union. Many Egyptians claim that Sadat orchestrated Badawi’s death in a helicopter crash that also killed 13 ranking officers in March 1981. Following Sadat’s assassination in October 1981, his successor, Hosni Mubarak, immediately discharged 18 ranking officers because he had suspicions about their loyalty to him.

The Army Shifts Gear

In 1954, Nasser introduced sweeping social, political and economic reforms. After his adoption of socialist reforms in 1962, he appointed army officers as bank and plant managers, in part because he thought they cared about the well-being of fellow Egyptians but also to dissuade them from seeking political power. But Nasser did not transform the army into a political or economic player. Under Amer’s command, the military retained its autonomy and generous financial allocations.

The military’s shift in focus to economic matters occurred soon after Mubarak took office and Israel completed its withdrawal from Sinai following the Camp David Accords. Mubarak was worried that, after Egypt’s disengagement from the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Egyptian Armed Forces might refocus its attention from war to domestic politics. He understood the implications of the army perceiving itself as the guardian of society and the instrument of social change.

Mubarak built on Sadat’s 1975 infitah (open-door policy) and adopted neoliberalism. The implementation of the new economic orientation relied on an alliance between a small group of businesspeople close to Mubarak and the top military brass.

Preparing the Egyptian Armed Forces to assume an economic role required adding civilian lines of production to existing military industries. The strategy of the Ministry of Military Production that Nasser founded in 1954 needed revision. During the Cold War, Nasser was unsuccessful in securing weapons from the West because he refused to join the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact. To achieve a modicum of self-sufficiency in military procurement, he launched a modest weapons industry program. Signing the peace treaty with Israel and adopting neoliberal economics created new opportunities for the EAF. No longer content with manufacturing light weapons, such as grenade launchers, rifles and machine guns, military plants expanded their lines of production to include consumer items. For example, Al-Maadi Company for Engineering Industries, which has links to the Ministry of Military Production, began manufacturing a wide range of civilian goods, such as culinary and electrical appliances, agricultural equipment and medical instruments.

Mubarak took advantage of the high social regard for the military and arranged for the establishment of lucrative joint ventures with the EAF. The military’s role in the economy grew at the same time that the EAF’s mission shifted from preparing for war against Israel to counterterrorism and special operations. Still, Mubarak’s economic alliance with the military failed to protect his regime against a massive popular uprising in 2011 that led to his political demise.

El-Sissi Transforms the Military Into an Economic Driver

When el-Sissi assumed the presidency in 2014, he chose to cement his ties with the military establishment and gradually broke ties with the business elite. Egyptians had come to believe that the Mubarak government and its partners in the business world robbed the country blind. El-Sissi used this as an opportunity to give senior military officers a greater role in the country’s economic affairs. He reasoned that the armed forces are more trustworthy and committed to the public good than greedy civilian entrepreneurs. The military’s commercial operations do play a social justice role by making strategic staple foods – such as meat, poultry, cooking oil and formula milk – available to the public at affordable prices, though not for noble reasons.

El-Sissi insists that the military’s commercial projects do not exceed 3 percent of Egypt’s gross national product, but in reality, they account for more than 50 percent. Since Morsi’s ouster in 2013, military sector companies have flourished. El-Sissi has pushed to list army business establishments on the stock exchange, a sign of their growing role in the Egyptian economy. The move would have significant implications, establishing a firm link between the interests of the army and those of the people, and potentially preventing another uprising.

The army now owns 600 hotels and resorts, major asphalt and concrete batching plants, and organic fertilizer facilities. It also constructs roads and highways, bridges, sewage treatment plants, swimming pools and irrigation systems. The range of civilian goods produced by the army covers nearly every part of daily life, from food to medicines and clothing. All 16 factories owned by the Ministry of Military Production likely are now involved in manufacturing civilian goods, and this number does not include many private companies run by the military.

Army businesses don’t disclose financial information to government agencies, so their finances are shrouded in secrecy. All army enterprises are exempt from import fees and income taxes, and those that build their plants on free land owned by the EAF are not subject to taxation. Investors both at home and abroad therefore feel discouraged from investing in the economy. Army companies are often awarded no-bid contracts for government infrastructure projects, allowing the military to increase its share of the Egyptian economy steadily. The Armed Forces Engineering Authority, an agency of the Ministry of Defense, has expanded its non-military projects to include psychological rehabilitation and supply of civil servants.

In addition to expanding the military’s economic role, el-Sissi embarked on two massive, controversial projects. Two months into his presidency, he ordered the construction of a parallel Suez Canal, which he claimed would more than double the canal’s revenue of $5.5 billion. Government officials described the expansion, undertaken by seven foreign contractors, as Egypt’s gift to the world. One year after completing the controversial project, which cost more than $8 billion and depleted Egypt’s foreign currency reserves, revenue from the two parallel canals dropped to $5 billion. In 2016, revenue started to rise modestly, not because of increased traffic but because of rising toll fees. After seeing the disappointing economic returns, el-Sissi changed the objective of the project from invigorating the stagnant economy into giving the Egyptian people a morale boost.

The second controversial project was a new administrative capital near Cairo at the edge of the Nile Delta. The army owns 51 percent of the shares of the company that is currently developing the new administrative capital at an estimated cost of $45 billion. In January 2019, el-Sissi inaugurated the largest cathedral in the Middle East and a large mosque, second only to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, in the new city.

Dubai Ports World was granted a concession to operate the Ain Sokhna transit port near the southern terminus of the Suez Canal, angering Egyptians who know that the UAE would never develop the port to the point that it could compete with Dubai’s Port of Jebel Ali. El-Sissi compromised the economic development of the Suez Canal area in exchange for receiving UAE financial aid and recognition of his political legitimacy. For the same reasons, he also relinquished Tiran and Sanafir islands – seen as national icons because Egypt fought two wars with Israel in 1956 and 1967 over the Tiran Passes – to Saudi Arabia.

El-Sissi’s ambitions are personal. He has no economic vision that promotes investments. He is interested more in glorifying himself than in embarking on real economic development. He follows in the footsteps of Nasser but lacks his charisma. Egyptians remember Nasser for nationalizing the Suez Canal and constructing the High Dam. El-Sissi, on the other hand, has built two unnecessary projects and failed to defend Egypt’s vital interests in the waters of the Nile River.   


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Stratfor: Biden likely to question ties with Egypt
« Reply #404 on: December 24, 2020, 07:36:53 PM »
As Biden Takes Office, the U.S.-Egyptian Bond Comes Into Question
Emily Hawthorne
Emily Hawthorne
Middle East and North Africa Analyst, Stratfor
Dec 23, 2020 | 10:00 GMT

Egyptian tanks take part in joint military exercises at a base near the Mediterranean coast, located northwest of the capital of Cairo, on Nov. 15, 2018.
Egyptian tanks take part in joint military exercises at a base near the Mediterranean coast, located northwest of the capital of Cairo, on Nov. 15, 2018.

(KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images)


The U.S.-Egypt accord, one of the cornerstone bilateral relationships shaping stability in the Middle East and North Africa, will come under pressure as the Biden administration enters the White House promising greater scrutiny of Egyptian actions and as Egypt prioritizes regional stability in areas of less U.S. interest....

The U.S.-Egypt accord, one of the cornerstone bilateral relationships shaping stability in the Middle East and North Africa, will come under pressure as the Biden administration enters the White House promising greater scrutiny of Egyptian actions and as Egypt prioritizes regional stability in areas of less U.S. interest. Congress and the incoming Biden administration have already threatened the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi with sanctions and conditions on economic aid tied to human rights concerns. On top of this, Cairo is already reconsidering whether it needs to maintain its historic economic, security and diplomatic reliance on Washington at the same level. Even so, the United States is unlikely to terminate its substantial arms sales and aid to Egypt.

Egypt And The United States: A Long History Of Strong Cooperation.

Egypt is the fourth-largest recipient of U.S. aid in the world, with transfers of Foreign Military Financing and Economic Support Funds worth over a billion dollars annually for many years, in large part because Egypt has long been aligned closely with the United States on all regional conflicts.

The United States is Egypt's strongest Western partner diplomatically and economically, based on a bedrock of decades of cooperation on counterterrorism and mediation of regional conflicts.

Ever since modern Egypt's independence, Cairo has oscillated between its dependence on the United States as its near-sole security guarantor, economic patron and source of investment and its ties with Russia.

Egypt has been especially valuable to the United States in the Middle East because of its longstanding peace agreement with Israel; at a time when regional relationships with Israel are shifting, Egypt's deal with Israel serves as a model for maintaining normalization over the long term.

Domestically, Egypt's focus on political and economic stability at the cost of personal freedoms will clash with the Biden administration's renewed focus on human rights. This increases the risk of U.S. sanctions and stipulations related to economic aid, which could disrupt Egyptian economic stability. Under the al-Sisi administration, disappearances and arrests of nongovernmental organization workers, journalists and human rights campaigners have reached their peak in modern Egyptian history. The trend has been part of the government's effort to maintain political stability by sharply managing dissent. The instability following the Arab Spring and the resurgence of jihadist violence in the Sinai and Western desert have also focused the al-Sisi administration's attention on eliminating the Muslim Brotherhood and related groups, often leading Cairo to categorize any dissent as Brotherhood-linked. Such actions increasingly concern Western partners of Egypt, and the Biden administration has promised to review relations with Cairo with an emphasis on policing human rights violations.

According to organizations like the Project on Middle East Democracy, repression in Egypt reached high levels in 2020 under al-Sisi.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden tweeted during the campaign in July 2020 that there would be "no more blank checks for Trump's favorite dictator" in reference to al-Sisi and the increasing number of forced disappearances and arrests of human rights campaigners in Egypt.

Al-Sisi did enjoy good ties with U.S. President Donald Trump, who indeed referred to the Egyptian leader as his "favorite dictator" and said in al-Sisi's presence in May 2017 that the United States seeks "partners, not perfection." Congressional Democrats has already made clear, most recently via a letter to the al-Sisi government in October 2020, that Egypt's behavior is under increasing scrutiny and that arms sales and economic aid will be evaluated with Egypt's actions in mind. The Trump administration, which had little tolerance for political Islamist movements and took its partners' concerns at face value, embraced Cairo's campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood in a way the Biden administration might not.

Meanwhile, Egypt's increasing focus on ensuring stability in its immediate neighborhood does not match the top U.S. priorities in the Middle East, lessening opportunities for coordination and collaboration between the two over mediating regional conflict. As Egypt has emerged from a post-Arab Spring period of severe instability, it has shifted its mediation efforts toward issues abroad that directly impact Egyptian stability. This includes Eastern Mediterranean energy competition; ensuring stability in the Nile River Valley; border security with Libya and Sudan; and containing state supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, like Turkey. Cairo is not convinced that these priorities align with U.S. priorities, which remain intensely focused on containing Iran and countering terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria.

Egypt has engaged in a series of unusual military drills in recent months with regional partners, indicating a desire to display its independence.

Egypt traditionally has not deployed its military forces abroad to places like Iraq and Syria per its domestic military doctrine, reducing opportunities for direct coordination with the U.S. military.
While Egypt will remain a key U.S. partner and recipient of aid, it will also seek closer relations with partners like Russia, which does not pressure Egypt over human rights abuses, and France, which has promised not to condition arms sales on human rights and is more active in the theaters in which Egypt is keenly interested. As Biden's Middle East policies take shape once he takes office, the future of Egypt as a key partner in regional counterterrorism and intelligence operations will become clearer. The Biden administration will not want to lose Egypt's valuable counterterrorism cooperation. Egypt meanwhile is likely to continue in 2021 to experience greater macroeconomic stability than most other countries in the region, which will boost support for government and domestic stability — as well as Cairo's willingness to challenge pressure by foreign governments like the United States over its politics.

So far, Egypt is the only Middle Eastern country expected by the IMF and World Bank to experience economic growth in 2020, giving it a substantial head start in 2021, a time when most countries worldwide will still be grappling with COVID-19 related contractions.

Egypt is the third-largest military arms importer in the world; Russia and France are major suppliers, increasingly so in recent years.

French President Emmanuel Macron told al-Sisi in December 2020 that French arms sales to Egypt would not be conditioned on human rights abuses, a reflection of the economic importance of this relationship to France.


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GPF: Egypt as a declining regional power
« Reply #405 on: June 10, 2021, 10:22:08 AM »
Egypt as a Declining Regional Power
Cairo’s main focus is maintaining stability at home rather than projecting power abroad.
By: Hilal Khashan

In June 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered an address to the Muslim world proposing a new start in Arab-U.S. relations. He chose to deliver his potentially trailblazing speech at Cairo University in Egypt as a recognition of the country’s historic role in the Muslim world. (Subsequent developments, including the Arab uprisings and the rise of the Islamic State, dashed hopes for a shift on both sides.)

However, Egypt’s prominence as a regional leader has been declining for years. Beginning in the early 1970s during Anwar Sadat’s presidency, the country became increasingly inward-focused. It prioritized combating political opposition and Islamist militancy at home rather than projecting power abroad. Since Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s 2013 coup, which overthrew Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s foreign policy has been a reflection of its internal affairs. Countries that support the Muslim Brotherhood, such as Turkey and Qatar, are considered ideological adversaries, while those that oppose political Islam, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are seen as tactical allies.

From Pan-Arabism to Egypt First

Britain’s occupation of Egypt in 1882 cut off Egypt from its traditional foreign policy theaters, especially in West Asia. Under British occupation, Egyptian nationalism developed differently from the nationalist movements in West Asia and North Africa. Most Egyptian heads of state did not try to project power beyond Egypt’s borders, though there were two notable exceptions: King Farouk and President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Farouk was a descendant of Muhammad Ali, who seized power in Egypt in 1805 and aspired to create an Arab kingdom. Farouk decided to lead Egypt into the 1948 Arab-Israeli war against the wishes of his own government and army command. In 1950, he closed the Tiran Passes to Israeli shipping, and the following year, he played an instrumental role in drafting the Joint Arab Defense Treaty to confront Israel.

Nasser, meanwhile, had distinct Arab roots, unlike most Egyptians, and hailed from the Asyut governorate in Upper Egypt. He militarily and economically supported the Algerian war of independence in 1954-62. In 1957, he sent troops to Syria to defend the country against a possible Turkish invasion. In 1960, he dispatched army units to Kuwait after Iraqi President Abdul Karim Qasim threatened to occupy it. Two years later, he sent one-third of the Egyptian army to Yemen to defend the fledgling republican regime after a coup overthrew its king. Even after Egypt’s staggering defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War, Nasser remained a powerful figure in the Arab world. Though many Arab leaders viewed him as an enemy, the vast majority of the Arab public saw him as the uncontested champion of Arab nationalism.

Since Nasser’s death in 1970, however, Egypt’s regional ambitions have been limited. Egyptian presidents have recognized that the poor state of the country’s economy disqualified it from playing a leading role in regional politics. Anwar Sadat, who succeeded Nasser, opposed sending a single Egyptian soldier to fight on behalf of Arabs. During his presidency, he was boycotted by most Arab leaders because he made unilateral peace with Israel. Hosni Mubarak, who became president in 1981 after Sadat’s assassination, sent Egyptian troops to Saudi Arabia in 1990 as part of the U.S. coalition to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. But his move was not motivated by a desire for Egypt to become a regional power but by a desire to stop Iraq from becoming one.

El-Sissi’s Politics of Regime Survival

Current President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has mostly followed suit. Since becoming president, he has been preoccupied with internal security matters. As the only Egyptian president to stage a coup to seize power since 1952, his top concern has been staying in control, not reestablishing Egypt’s leadership of the Arab world. His focus has been on safeguarding Egypt’s borders from incoming militants and arms, which could be used to support Egypt’s homegrown militant movements.

El-Sissi has no regional power ambitions. However, he doesn’t want the aggressive foreign policies of the Saudi and Emirati crown princes to overshadow Egypt’s historical role in the region. He has deep concerns about the Gulf countries’ peace deals with Israel, which threaten to limit the need for Egypt’s regional mediation. Cairo gained its reputation as a regional peace broker after the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference. But since then, the Palestinians have turned to Turkey to facilitate a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, while Hamas has sought Qatar’s help to ease Israel’s blockade on Gaza. Egypt is also increasingly economically alienated. Last October, Israel Pipeline Company signed a deal with the UAE to transport oil from Abu Dhabi to Europe via the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline. The agreement effectively reduces oil shipments via the Suez Canal by 17 percent and compromises Egypt’s Sumed oil pipeline from the Gulf of Suez to Alexandria.

Egypt-Israel Oil and Gas Pipelines
(click to enlarge)

Egypt adopted a relatively proactive and pro-Palestinian approach to Israel’s recent operation in Gaza. (By comparison, it was relatively passive during similar bouts of violence in 2009 and 2014.) In 2014, Egypt pressured Hamas to accept Israel’s terms for a cease-fire, but this time around, it brokered a deal that took effect without any preconditions. It painted Israel as the aggressor in the conflict, and a prominent Egyptian Islamic scholar called on Muslims to seize Jerusalem and halt Israel’s West Bank settlements.

Still, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked el-Sissi for facilitating the cease-fire. As for Hamas, it was skeptical of Egypt’s offer of $500 million for Gaza’s reconstruction, knowing that Egyptian companies run by the armed forces would lead the reconstruction efforts and that these efforts would increase Egypt’s influence over Gaza.

Egypt’s government-controlled media referred to Cairo’s efforts to negotiate a cease-fire deal as the dawning of a golden era in Egyptian foreign policy. The media lauded Egyptian officials’ negotiation skills, ignoring the fact that Biden played the decisive role in stopping the fighting. The claim that Egypt was restoring its relevance as an international peace broker rings hollow because in Egypt, Gaza is often considered more of a domestic matter rather than a regional one. (Cairo occupied the Gaza Strip from 1948 until 1967.) In any event, successful mediation does not make a country a regional power.

Egyptian media have exaggerated el-Sissi’s achievements. They claimed that his forceful diplomacy protected the Palestinians against Israeli aggression. It also spread propaganda about his military coup, claiming it was a popular revolution that saved Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood. The media also glorified Egypt’s massive troop mobilization in the northwest – which it claimed resolved the Libyan crisis to Egypt’s advantage.

Egypt has myriad other problems with which to contend. It has a weak economy, heavy debt, poor educational system and high unemployment. According to the World Bank, Egypt’s per capita income in 2019 was $3,000 compared to $8,000 for the Middle East and North Africa region. Although real incomes saw modest growth over the past few years, they are not sustainable in the long term because Egypt’s economic reforms are superficial. The Egyptian economy relies heavily on the public sector, led by the armed forces. The International Monetary Fund strongly recommended that the government promote the private sector, but instead, it increased the military’s involvement in the economy.

Adjust Net National Income Per Capita, 2011 - 2019
(click to enlarge)

The 1952 military coup ended a century of capitalistic development. Nasser’s nationalization of the economy had devastating consequences for Egypt’s economic growth. When Sadat made peace with Israel, he slashed the military budget but allowed the armed forces to play an active role in the economy to generate revenue. Under Mubarak, the military effectively dominated the economy, a trend that only grew under el-Sissi, who’s dependent on the loyalty of senior army officers who oppose any attempts at privatization.

Egypt is also facing a low-intensity insurgency in northern Sinai and an intensifying water dispute with Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. (The project, which is still under construction, has already decreased Egypt’s production of staple crops – wheat, rice, and sugar – by more than 25 percent.) El-Sissi believes Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is seeking to transform his country into an economic hub and marginalize Egypt’s role in the region.

The Nile River
(click to enlarge)

A country with an economy controlled by its military and facing an existential threat to its water supply can hardly expect to become a regional power. El-Sissi has shifted Egypt’s focus from the Middle East to Africa, in part because of the dispute over the dam, but he remains too preoccupied with the existential threat from the south to worry about restoring Egypt’s regional power status.

Egypt enjoys geostrategic advantages that qualify it to play a leading regional role. It straddles Africa, Asia and Europe and controls one of the world’s most important maritime routes. It is the Arab world’s most populous country and has its most homogeneous population. However, Egypt remains inwardly focused, and its people have little interest in non-Egyptian affairs. Considering the state of the country’s economy, it’s unlikely these conditions will change any time soon.