Last month we spoke about the challenges facing the new Egyptian government. At the time of his appointment, Mr Mehleb proclaimed that his two main objectives were to wipe out militant violence and improve the economy. In the weeks that have followed his appointment, the prime minster has been very active, clearly adopting a management by wandering around (MBWA) technique, which seems to bode well with both the crowd as well as the media. There is no doubt that the man is displaying some visible efforts; Mehleb has paid numerous surprise visits to government offices throughout the country, displaying authority and at times sacking government employees who were caught sleeping at the wheel. The prime minister notoriously held cabinet meetings at 7 am and even took the time to meet with youths and party heads. However, notwithstanding the ongoing media propaganda, there are no signs of materials changes. In fact, Mehleb’s two main objectives remain as elusive as ever.
In a recent interview with Radio Masr, Mehleb has affirmed the cabinet’s desire and the ability to meet the needs of citizens in current stage. Mehleb insisted that government has indeed achieved progress in combating terror through several means including reviewing criminal and anti-terror codes. On the economy front, he has formed groups to study all issues and challenges facing the Egyptian people. However regardless of anything Mehleb can say or do, the reality suggests the next three months are shaping up to be the most predictable months in the country’s recent history.
On the security front, it is not expected that the situation will simmer down any soon. This certainly doesn’t help in the recovery of the ailing tourism sector and the economy at large. As thousands of holiday makers prepare to travel the South Sinai for Easter holidays, Britain has sent a security services team to assess the vulnerability of Sharm El-Sheikh to an increasing terrorism threat.
On the economy front, long term solutions are likely to linger until a solid political mandate has been obtained. The only way for the country to survive the current conditions is through continuing to add more debt to the existing $260bn dollars liability. Talks of summer blackouts are already intensifying as the government struggles to bridge a gap between demand for electricity, current power generation capacity, and fuel availability.
On the political front, Egypt is poised for an election with a largely known outcome. Former army Chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi who currently runs in an almost unchallenged fashion is largely expected to win. All indications also point out that there will be no material progress to the parliamentary election law; this law is likely to remain unfinished business until the general assumes office. This would mean that Egypt may not have a parliament in place until December of this year at the very earliest.
In short, Egypt is currently entering into a lull where all major events are known in advance, major problems are also known in advance and where there are no magical solutions.