Government by military

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Government by military

Post by newcastle » Sat Jul 09, 2016 12:43 pm

An interesting article on how Sisi intends to rescue Egypt.

Some extracts:

CAIRO (AP) — During two years in office, Egypt's general-turned-president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has sought to impose a military-style discipline to end years of turmoil and has turned to the armed forces to help rebuild the deeply damaged economy to a degree unseen in more than 50 years.

The military has taken the lead in carrying out a string of major projects, from building roads and overseeing housing construction to providing cheap food to the public. That has provided a needed bit of stimulus and helped keep Egyptians going in hard times. But the flip side has been a heavy emphasis on secrecy, leaving observers unsure how el-Sissi plans to tackle an economy struggling under high inflation, unemployment and a tumbling currency.

El-Sissi has frequently sought to impose secrecy on politicians over issues that usually would be open for public discussion. In June, he said some of his planned projects cannot be announced, without explanation.


"He wants to run the country like the military," said Michael W. Hanna, an Egypt expert with the New York-based Century foundation. "In that world, it is a question of order and execution, it is not a place for discussion, transparency or politics. They don't want politics."

Hisham Kassem, a veteran human rights advocate and political analyst, said el-Sissi initially sought the counsel of economic experts. But "he decided there was too much talk and little action, so he sought the help of the military."

El-Sissi argues he is racing against time and his style is the only way to bring Egypt out of turmoil, fix and expand dilapidated infrastructure and satisfy the needs of a population of 91 million.

He often calls on Egyptians to sacrifice. In an emotional speech Sunday, he said Egypt is crying out for its people to take care of it. "So, does that mean we don't eat? Fine, we don't eat. Does that mean we don't sleep? Fine, we don't sleep. Anything, so that Egypt can take its proper place. "


The building of a new leg of the Suez Canal typified el-Sissi's approach. Originally projected to take 36 months to build, el-Sissi ordered it finished in a year. With the military's help in the work, the timetable was met, with the new 45-mile length opening last August to great fanfare.

"We in the military have learned that when an order comes from the supreme commander or the presidency, we respond by saying 'yes, sir'," canal chairman Mohab Mamish, a retired navy admiral, recalled in a recent TV interview.


In late February, el-Sissi said up to 6,000 kilometers (3,600 miles) of roads, 113 bridges and three airports were being built since he took office.

The military is taking the lead in a program with private companies to build housing for the poor. The armed forces' engineering corps acts as trouble-shooters, using its resources when projects are behind schedule. When el-Sissi toured one of the latest housing complexes, a senior military engineering officer was by his side.

With inflation rising to 12.3 percent, the military expanded its network of outlets selling food at discount prices, currently running 400 across the country. The military has stepped up direct distribution of aid to the poor. It has upgraded hospitals and allowed civilians access to more military hospitals.

El-Sissi's government has invested $16.5 billion in developing electricity and as a result, there have been few of the long power cuts Egypt previously suffered. El-Sissi also succeeded in partially lifting fuel subsidies without sparking unrest.

Military-led infrastructure projects provide the economy with stimulus and create jobs, say economists.


"The government took the lead at a time when the private sector saw risks,"
said Mohammed Abu Basha, a senior economist with regional investment bank, Hermes.

No one knows who is advising the president on the economy, and that's a source of serious concern
."

Officials often justify the need for secrecy in terms of national security. El-Sissi talks cryptically of "evil people" plotting against Egypt. The country faces an Islamic militant insurgency, but at the same time the government has been cracking down hard on dissent, arresting thousands in crackdowns against Islamists and secular democracy advocates.

"As far as he is concerned, Egypt is facing a multitude of security threats that necessitates less discussion and more empowerment of the executive, whether society agrees or not," said H.A. Hellyer, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and the Royal United Services Institute.

http://www.bigstory.ap.org/article/4fdb ... uild-egypt



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Re: Government by military

Post by Hafiz » Sat Jul 09, 2016 3:39 pm

Thank you newcastle.

Read the same article on another, more reputable, web site the other day. Can't remember the details and am too lazy. Your web site does not include an attribution. Its a bit obsessional on my part but I dont like web sites that aren't honest about where they got their info.

You know me well enough to guess what my answer to the article is. Its the same answer that you have given to other similar articles. And the answer is as follows. Things aint great in Egypt. They may get worse. They probably will. That is not the point. What is the alternative? The army have run Egypt since the king - and not well (but where has been the effective dissent?). One year of democracy produced disorder (aided by the non-co-operation of the 'deep state') which has inoculated Egyptians against the brothers and democracy for a generation. The middle classes, and what democratic liberals as exist, are decadent, self interested, disorganized and easily intimidated by force. Everyone knows that. Order is difficult to maintain in Egypt. and the failures of the rest of the system mean that it is always and only the army. The judiciary, organized religion, the bureaucracy, NGO's are neutered and no one believes that they can provide order. The natural tendency of the average Egyptian is to trust in authoritarian and simple answers to their complex problems and give little weight to the consequences of such a regime. Egyptians have a great fear of disorder, and a bit of a propensity to foster it, and an illogical capacity to tolerate mismanagement and injustice.

The 2011 eruptions are just that. Young people with no clear agenda, and no widespread support. If they had demonstrated an' unhealthy' and blood thirsty appetite to take their passive protests further then we could be talking different. But we are not

You have put it clearly on other occasions. There is no organized credible alternative to the current government. Disorder and dissent - yes - but nothing organized, coherent or with widespread support as an alternative The Brotherhood are dead. (don't quite completely believe the last sentence - but for all practical purposes a movement in the tens of millions is broken and frightened).

The question not asked is what happens when the inevitable anger about under-performance in the future meets the army. Newcastle, you are good at guessing. Is it a pressure cooker that will explode into more fundamental disorder or a system that will persist through force? The US have already placed their bet. What bet has been made and how good do you think their betting average is?

An alternative view says that all the major concerns of Egyptians have been manipulated by propaganda. Prior to 2011 order was not an issue. The issue was equity and justice. Since then the Egyptians have had the bejesus frightened out of them and told, and believe, that the central issue is order.

On this alternative view, order is not the central issue, the central issue is still economic growth and opportunity. For example why have Korea, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia risen from poverty whilst Egypt has marked time? But who in Egypt believes that growth and opportunity are the key issues when they have been told that you cannot have these without order. That propaganda says you cannot have order without the army and you must await their decisions about what opportunity they are prepared to graciously grant you - under a form of state managed dependency socialism. Lots of Egyptians seem to agree with this. Not the lessons any sane person would draw from the East Asian economic renaissance. But no matter. People are stupid and easy to frighten (think the Brexit campaign on both sides).
Last edited by Hafiz on Sat Jul 09, 2016 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Government by military

Post by newcastle » Sat Jul 09, 2016 4:35 pm

The author of the article...per the heading of the website...is Hamza Hendawi. He's a well-known journalist (Google him)

Yes....you've summarised my views quite accurately.

When might the populace run out of patience?

Firstly...and miracles sometimes happen (so I'm told )...things might improve and set Egypt off into a future of prosperity.

If they stay the same I would expect the Egyptians to show the same tolerance as they did for Mubarak over 30 years....providing Sisi can keep the excesses of his security apparatus in check. Not too many atrocities please.

I think it would have to get REALLY bad (economically) before you saw civil disturbance of any significance....and I don't expect the West or Egypt's Gulf allies to allow that to happen.

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Re: Government by military

Post by Hafiz » Sat Jul 09, 2016 5:24 pm

I didn't doubt the author - it was about how some web sites make themselves look good by 'stealing' good journalism and presenting it as their own. Its a small point of mine that should not have got much attention. It was not about the poster but was a much more general issue - indeed a personal grievance.

Reactions to comments at the moment have a slight febrile tone to them. I hope I have not contributed to this but fear I might.

You suggest that things would need to get really bad before kickback.

Here are a few guesses based on Reuters and others in the finance media in last month about how bad things could easily get. Note no-one is saying that the situation will stabilize let alone get better. The only question is how bad things will get. No independent expert is saying that things will get better in the short term. At least none that I have read.

Inflation is out of control - particularly for staples.

GDP growth is considerably less than expected.

Unemployment, particularly among the young, is growing.

Interest rates reflecting inflation mean that borrowing for growth is not an easy option. The banking system is not helping growth as it would in a more normal situation - ignoring for one moment that the banking system is a government monopoly that invests in secure government bonds rather than loan to businesses.

The economy is a part Stalinist command economy throw-back that will never produce enough growth to employ Egyptians. The monopolies and large vested interests are parasitic on government support and are not a way forward. The government will not abandon Stalinist ways and run the short term risks of deregulation and divestment. Selling badly managed government businesses reduces control and government in Egypt has always been about control over efficiency.

The currency is impossibly overvalued and will be devalued before calendar year end adding to new inflation, increased trade defect, depletion of the low currency holdings and adding to the cost of paying the modest external debt. This is a cycle on its own which could lead to further devaluations - and so on.

No-one will loan Egypt, except its own people, so it can't increase tradable currencies this way. Without currency it can't buy staples because it consistently imports more than it exports.

Tourism will not improve from its very low base any time soon. Westerners will see Egypt as a security danger even if there are no more terrorist outrages and the government has not been very successful over the past three years in eradicating terrorism in Egypt. Even occasional outrages will continue to consolidate a pervasive negative opinion. This has big time negative implications for employment and currency reserves.

The IMF deal, if agreed, will be $US3 billion which is trivial. A $3 billion loan will solve little. Its a bit more than six months of pure interest costs on the external debt.

Egyptian exports, with a lower pound, will not take off because the economy is crushed by labor inefficiency, bureaucracy, corruption etc. The normal rules will not apply because of government drag. A lower currency will not help Egypt trade its way out.

The lower currency will force a major crisis where the state is unable to purchase, as is their socialist want, basic staples.

The budget is weighed down by 50% for staple subsidies and external interest payments whilst education, infrastructure and health are starved of funds with obvious implications for order and future growth.

No-one has an answer to how to grow exports or increase productivity let alone turn Egypt into a medium skills/medium income country. Its education system is broken and more money for it would be a waste.

Newcastle. You maybe right. Your argument is a bit like 'to big to fail'. The problem in your argument is that no-one has the money to fund a rescue. The kingdom has its own problems, Europe is distracted and the US is withdrawing. Besides the amounts will be huge and Egypt has taken these gifts in the past and always responded in the same way. We will not change - and you have lost your money. Still, if a major security crisis could be manufactured, money would be found. As quick as it would be found it would be wasted because the problems are not about cash but about how the total system does not work.

You might be half right, I don't think you are, because one prominent US senator and the speaker of the US house of representatives have both said publically in the last two months the need for a 'Marshall Plan' for Egypt. Both are Republicans. They are obviously reading from the same menu.

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Re: Government by military

Post by Frater0082 » Mon Jul 11, 2016 2:42 am

They are trying to this in our country as well so I've heard.

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Re: Government by military

Post by newcastle » Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:03 am

Not only is the Egyptian mentality predisposed towards avoiding further upheaval, but it's pretty obvious that their daily intake of news is heavily biased towards the regime line.

Most Egyptians get their news & opinions via TV and, as the following article shows, TV news reporting is both controlled by backers of the regimes and hosted by journalists generally sympathetic...and rarely antithetic ...to the regime and its actions.

Visualizing Dissent media and public opinion

The state of Egypt's media is one manifestation of the decline in civil and political freedoms in the country after the 2011 revolution.

Freedom of expression indicators from both local and international organizations point to a clear deterioration in media freedoms in Egypt after January 25, 2011. Examples of increasing press restrictions include repressive legislation, ongoing imprisonment of journalists and the recent security raid on the Journalists Syndicate.

And while these various forms of censorship aim to silence dissident voices, mainstream media maintains a key role in shaping public opinion.

In an attempt to visualize how political TV programming impacts public opinion in Egypt, Visualizing Impact and Mada Masr have collaborated to produce the third visual in our project Visualizing Dissent.

http://www.madamasr.com/sections/politi ... ic-opinion

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Re: Government by military

Post by Hafiz » Tue Jul 12, 2016 4:33 pm

Thank you. Just to be clear I follow madr masr closely because it is good.

The point could be that TV ownership is dominated by the same billionaires. They also own political parties. Some of them also own newspapers. A business lesson for us all. :D Whats the point in owning a political party unless you can ensure that public opinion will support and elect it. A logical investment strategy if you want to protect your business interests by influencing politics. They are outdoing the 'Dirty Digger'. He hasn't, yet, established his own political party. :urm:

For those who want to be journalists, on the other hand, there are real disincentives to speaking out because Egypt trails only China, and not by much, on the highest number of journalists in jail in the world.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/ ... ers-letter

Its sometimes a bit too easy to be a stone thrower about journalism from the boundary line. There are good reasons to be frightened, only the very bravest will stand up and they will pay a high price.

Unfortunately, those who are promoted in such negative situations will probably be persons with low integrity and they will be around for another generation running the show and training subordinates. The future 20 or 30 years down the track will be full of liars and opportunists. Was Fleet Street any different :) maybe.

On a positive note there is a group of Middle East/Egyptian journalists who aim to do collaborative investigative work. They don’t produce much but who could blame them for this. http://en.arij.net/

Their website acts as a bit of a clearing house for ‘investigative’ work done by individual newspapers such as the esteemed madr masr so they are a bit of a canary on what is going on.

They must be optimists. They are establishing on line training programs for training in investigations. Good on them.

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Re: Government by military

Post by Major Thom » Wed Jul 13, 2016 6:38 am

There are obviously dangers in Egypt, remember the ex pat who flew home and got free accommodation for some time, because they thought their life was in danger! It's this type of happening that spreads around Europe and the rest of the World, and a contribution to low tourism, holding back progress.
Everything else at this moment is in a mess, and it's not all down to previous leaders. I find it hard that people think things are going to get better without actually doing anything to make things better. Personally I have never been a big believer in big projects making people happy, it's jobs and wages that settle people, without these there will always be some form of friction. At this moment people are still happy believing things will be getting better, but let's see what happens in a further two years down the line when there are still no tourists, still no new and proper jobs created, prices will have gone up to beyond the average locals ability to pay. The LE, will have been devalued maybe twice but at least once. What then? Unrest, Chaos? I don't know but things are going to have to show improvements, because by then words and secrecy will mean nothing.

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