The Muslim Brotherhood's Diet: Would Egypt And The Region Survive?

By EWI BLOG | by Rachel Ehrenfeld, Ken Jensen
Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 @ 5:44AM

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Egypt’s former Foreign Minister announced last week in Kuwait: “Egypt’s economy requires $100 billion to recover,” $12 [billion] of which are needed immediately. He went on to demand the convention of an international conference to discuss aid to Egypt.

On Sunday, Egypt’s new central bank governor Hesham Ramez, announced on television: “Egypt’s economy needs crisis management,” asserting that the government would accept the $4.8 billion loan from the IMF, only if the reforms upon which the loan is conditioned are approved by all the political parties and people.

“There must be a political and social consensus on the reforms; the public must understand that such reforms are imperative,” he insisted. Clearly, little consideration is being paid to the public’s blessing of the new diet imposed by the Morsi regime.

The Egyptian Food Observatory reports that most Egyptian households don’t have enough money to buy food, clothing and shelter: “Of the 1680 households surveyed in September 2012, 86 percent said their income was insufficient for covering total monthly needs including for food, clothes and shelter, up from 74 percent in June 2012.” According to Bloomberg News, minimal food consumption levels in Egypt will require at least $22 billion in aid in 2013.

The Morsi government’s reaction to the hardship of its citizens, growing poverty and hunger is to cut food rations that feed the country’s more than forty percent underemployed and unemployed, telling Egyptians to eat less! Egyptian journalist Issandr el Amrani reported the government has issued a new report acknowledging across-the-board food price inflation, advising citizens not to over-eat.

The report also gave dietary instructions to citizens, including…that it’s up to the individual to learn what to eat and why malnutrition can develop from a lack of food or overeating, and why a balanced diet is commensurate with the real needs of people, depending on their age, weight, and level of physical activity.”

On February 10, the government’s new day ration for breadpermits only three small pita loaves (400 calories). The nation’s strategic reserve of diesel fuel is down to three day’s supply: “Bakeries that use diesel to make staple subsidized bread have been told to keep 10 days’ fuel supply but not all have the capacity.”

Egypt’s economic decline was ushered in by the Muslim Brotherhood revolution. The political chaos and ongoing riots have paralyzed tourism, which at its peak accounted to 26 percent of GDP.

Complete economic collapse was only forestalled in 2012 by the remittances of Egyptians abroad, which totaled a whopping $19 billion.

While the Egyptian pound has already depreciated 8 percent this year, Egypt reportedly lost $1.4 billion in foreign exchange reserves in January; and, as economic expert David Goldman has said, is probably “flat broke after figuring in arrears to oil and food suppliers.”  This, because the country imports most of its energy and half its food from abroad. Another, more “optimistic” estimate has it that, despite recent help from Qatar and Turkey, foreign reserves are less than enough to cover three months of imports. Some of those reserves may be fictitious. However, the black market in foreign currency is thriving.

The infrastructure is also collapsing. In Alexandria alone, government officials estimate that as many as 10,000 buildings are at risk of collapsing. Recently an eight-story building in Alexandria collapsed, killing 22 people and injuring 11. An earlier collapse killed 19 and injured 47.

But Morsi’s government is still waiting for the sharia board to approve the IMF conditional reform, stalling its loan and therefore delaying other loans and keeping investments away.

Even the U.S. $1 billion aid package is contingent upon Egypt’s receipt of the $4.8 billion loan from the IMF, though the Obama administration has already thrown  $3 billion down the Muslim Brotherhood regime’s cesspool
Even their “friends” are hedging their bets that Egypt will survive its current predicament. Qatar recently offered Egypt a $2.5 billion currency lifeline. This was neither a loan nor a gift. It was simply an offer that the funds could be considered part of Egypt’s reserves, if necessary. However, Qatar has an agenda, apart from pursuing its general policy of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists wherever they may be. According to Bloomberg, Qatar National bank has bought a 77 percent interest in the French Societe Generale Egyptian unit for $1.97 billion. This will give Qatar a foothold in the Egyptian financial market to support $18 billion in futureinvestments.

Last May, Saudi Arabia came up with $500 million and made an 8-year deposit of $1 billion in the Egyptian Central Bank. They also agreed to provide $250 million in butane gas. AsFelix Imonti says in the National Interest, the Saudis have been following their long time strategy of paying off the Muslim Brotherhood to keep them from stirring things up in Saudi Arabia.

Al Arabiya’s English Editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas, in an article titled “The ‘naked truth’ about Egypt’s Brotherhood,” opined that “The only brilliance the Brotherhood has shown is in waste-management: they ‘managed’ to ‘waste’ a real and valuable opportunity when the whole world was ready to support the resurgence of Egypt.”

There is, however, one country in the world that offers sympathy to Egypt. It is easy enough to understand the advantage to Iran of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s February 6-7 visit to Cairo. The Iranian president knew full well what desperate straits the Muslim Brotherhood was in and that influence could be bought on the cheap. Accordingly, he put forward a line of credit offer to Egypt but not one that would change the game. Besides, Iran’s currency is worse off than Egypt’s and Iran needs food as much as Egypt does.  “In today’s world, any offers of ‘assistance’ from Iran can only mean one thing: that you must have messed up so badly with everyone else,” commented al Arabiya. However, offering help to Egypt will makes Iran’s support for Islamism in Gaza and all over North Africa much easier.

But if Egypt collapses the whole of North Africa will turn into our worst nightmare: a huge realm of pure anarchy in which al Qaeda and other jihadists will not only survive, but plan, recruit and train for further attacks.

Further Readings

World Bulletin: Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait seeks opposition alliance

Spengler: Fertility, Faith, and the Decline of Islam: Strategic Implications

Rana Muhammad Taha: Muslim Brotherhood denies torturing political activists
ALL AFRICA: Egypt: No Difference Between Mubarak, Armed Forces or Muslim Brotherhood – Revolutionary Forces

Janet Levy: The Folly of the West’s Alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood
Ayman Mottaleb: Two years after Mubarak: Muslim Brotherhood legacy is bogus
Al-Masry Al-Youm: Muslim Brotherhood asked for law giving arrest powers to military, says source

Moussa: Egypt’s Economy needs $100 billion to recover

Categories: ACD/EWI Blog, ACD/EWI Exclusive, Middle East Conflicts, Muslim Brotherhood

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