When the Obama administration stabbed U.S. ally, President Mubarak in the back, to curry favor with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, it surely could not have expected any outcome other than a Muslim Brotherhood victory at the polls. In this sense, President Obama owns the political-economic mess that now threatens to take Egypt down an economic black hole.
President Mohamed Morsi is an ill-educated religious bigot, typical of the Muslim Brotherhood that he now leads in the aftermath of Egypt’s Arab Spring. He has forced a Sharia-based constitution down the throats of the Egyptian people. He has demonstrated supreme incompetence in his attempt to lead a nation of 85 million people into a new era of prosperity. His personal support across the country has fallen from 58 per cent at his election in 2012 to 28 per cent in May 2013.
Having inherited a bloated and inefficient bureaucracy from his predecessor, Morsi has charged backwards to make it even worse. During the past two years, the budget deficit has skyrocketed to almost 12 per cent of gross domestic product. Cash injections from Qatar, Libya and Turkey are barely providing enough foreign currency reserves to cover three months of imports. The economic slowdown that he has provoked has increased poverty and unemployment with no sign whatsoever of any turn-around.
Investor confidence has totally evaporated and businesses are widely failing amid this foreign currency crunch. Morsi has failed to conclude a loan agreement with the IMF because he refuses to undertake austerity reforms that would start with a reduction in fuel subsidies. The country owes billions of dollars to oil and gas companies. Its sovereign debt and main banks have been downgraded by rating agencies sending them ever deeper into junk territory.
Morsi is a fourteenth-century throw-back president of a backward ruling party. The now only remaining hope for Egypt sadly is a military coup designed to return Egypt to a secular state and to impose austerity-based reforms that alone will pull Egypt back from the black hole that confronts it.
Hat Tip: Heba Saleh, ‘A revolution betrayed’, Financial times, June 28, 2013