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Editor's Letter: Egyptians between the two Gamals (5 of 5): Sisi in Nasser’s suit, Sadat’s tongue and Mubarak’s fist - Daily News Egypt

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Editor’s Letter: Egyptians between the two Gamals (5 of 5): Sisi in Nasser’s suit, Sadat’s tongue and Mubarak’s fist

Since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July this year by the military with support of the masses, Egypt is witnessing a unique example of governance models: all-in-one leadership style. Officially, we have Mr Adly Mansour as the interim president of the country until the so-called roadmap is accomplished sometime hopefully this coming …

Maher Hamoud
Maher Hamoud

Since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July this year by the military with support of the masses, Egypt is witnessing a unique example of governance models: all-in-one leadership style.

Officially, we have Mr Adly Mansour as the interim president of the country until the so-called roadmap is accomplished sometime hopefully this coming spring. However, practically and let’s not waste our time arguing about that, it is General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi who is the ultimate ruler of this country, the one that responded to the masses’ call and stood against the Muslim Brotherhood.

With the exception of the Brotherhood, Al Sisi’s goal is to make all Egyptians happy. Egyptians with all groups and colours; the revolutionary (or whoever seem representative), the political elite, the business elite and most importantly the masses that called for his help on 30 June.

For the masses and some fraction of the revolutionary activists, especially the widely supported and media polished Tamarod movement, he had to adopt a Nasserist approach. He flirted with the euphoric people in his military suit and spoke a language that finds nostalgic ears among the poor and deprived aspiring to have a dignified life. He perfectly played Nasser, and he easily won the masses’ hearts.

In Al Sisi’s other approach, he partially follows a Sadatist style in his concentration on his excessive nationalist language about Egypt. The term “Egypt above all” can be heard and seen on banners all over the country now. Sadat followed the same approach in the late 1970s, when he wanted to withdraw from the pan-Arab Nasserist commitment. El Sisi is doing a similar thing, softly breaking the ties with the Arab uprisings bond.

On the other hand, while the country cannot only survive on romantic Nasserist thoughts, the deteriorating economy weighs heavily on any of Al Sisi’s plans – especially when it is so far obvious that there is no politician in power in this country that has any sort of a meaningful economic plan. The general then had to approach the only power group prepared to play this role: the current business elite, the same group of businessmen that Mubarak and his son Gamal brought to power. However, he did not use Mubarak’s lame language. In his approach to them he again followed Sadat’s incoherent blend of exaggerated Egyptian nationalism in the hands of a state-obedient private sector within a free-market economy thought.

However, today is not the 1950s of Nasser or the 1970s of Sadat. The country is in turmoil since ousting Mubarak, the previous head of the same state, and people are still under the same revolutionary spill of street power, where they believe they can change things by their own hands. Yes, they are massively supportive of the general, who stood by them against the Brotherhood’s regime, but “stability” is crucial to have the country move “forward”, as anyone in power would believe.

Here, security steps into the current Egyptian political equation. And here the standby Mubarak’s interior that was shamefully hiding for almost three years picks up the call trying to enforce what is seen as stability. However, they practically have no new skills other than those old fascist ones that the revolution has actually broken out against. It is the ridiculous return of Mubarak’s heavy and blind security fist.

Now, let’s rationally ask ourselves the much needed question: is this mixture of Nasserist-Sadatist-Mubarakist leadership fashion, given the historical failure of each, feasible? For very simple reasons, the answer is no.

First, the slightly socialist pro-poor Nasserist strategies to attract the masses that poured to the streets in 2011 demanding social and economic justice cannot be offered at no cost. A cost that consequently requires significant changes in the current economic system. Is Egypt’s ruling elite of today willing to strip the country out of the world’s free-market economic order or even have the know-how? So far, no sigh of this ability, except for the current diplomatic mess caused by extreme violations of international human rights law.

Second, internally speaking, such pro-poor promises have their own business cost on those in control of most of the country’s economy, while the current regime is flirting with them – Mubarak’s business elite –  for the sake of keeping the economy from totally collapsing. Does anyone believe that they are willing to pay that cost? Highly unlikely.

Third, since no change will happen in people’s lives, at least economically speaking, why on earth would the average citizen have to accept such a blunt return of Mubarak’s police state that thousands have lost their lives fighting against? Pathetically, the Ministry of Interior’s arrogant and violent return, protected by the new and quickly cooked up Protest Law, is so much like a dinosaur’s return in confrontation of a young generation that thinks totally differently – not to mention, quickly. A few days ago, a smart-phone application was introduced by activists and protesters called “I’m getting arrested”, where a single click can inform a whole limitless network of lawyers, other activists and the media to take action at the same moment.

The bottom line is that since this interfamily marriage between the military, Mubarak’s interior ministry and Gamal’s business elite is still ruling the country, and since people are still getting killed or arrested for expressing their opinions, Egyptians are still stuck on 11 February, 2011, where Mubarak forcibly left his office, while the same office is still ruling the country in coordination with the legacy of the last Gamal.

…End of series


Egyptians between the two Gamals (1 of 5)

Egyptians between the two Gamals (2 of 5): The Mubarakonomics of dismantling Nasser’s state

Egyptians between the two Gamals (3 of 5): A nation on the back burner

Egyptians between the two Gamals (4 of 5): Mubarak’s fall, just a beginning


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  • Ahmed Bata

    Mr. Hamoud, maybe you like Cuba, or Venezuela’s model then? Socialism is not the answer. Those business elite do not have nearly enough wealth to make a dent in the needs of the poor. The only solution is to improve the productivity of the poor. You do this with capital investment in all sectors, including infrastructure, health, education, and job creating. You get investment with a business friendly atmosphere, which includes security and stability, not socialism. Offer a quality education to everyone up to a trade level education. It is socialism that got us in this mess to begin with. people starting feeling entitled, expecting something for nothing, and having all the kids they wanted, expecting Auntie Nanny State to provide. But there are no riches. On a per capita basis, Egypt now has severe water poverty, not to mention a dearth of arable land, to support the current population. If the “poor” in 1960s were allowed to go hungry, we would be much better as a country today. Raise the bar for everyone, poor included. They need to realize we are now too numerous for natural resources to suffice their needs. Self respect, hard work, using reason, and then reliance on God for success, is what is called for. That means put education first, delay and have less children, work hard, and limit your demonstrations to government actions or inactions that interfere with this game plan. Any “Man” that can’t read, and has 6 children, should be summarily thrown in the zoo for being an animal with no powers of higher functioning. There are plenty of poor the world over Mr. Hamoud, look out because they are blazing their way out of that state in India, China, Thailand, Brazil, and many other locations. Our poor only aspire for subsidized bread, and a subsidized job at a money loosing factory that they do sit in strikes now and then, in order to keep milking the system.

    • sam enslow

      While I agree that Egypt must work itself out of its current situation and that education is the key, the poor have not been the ones responsible for running the country. They are the result of the actions (or lack of action) of the elites, politicians, clerics, and businessmen. Corruption and nepotism reign in Egypt. Jobs and promotions come through family connections and bribes. Merit has very little to do with anything. Apply for a job in Egypt, and one of the first questions you will be asked is, “Who is your father?” Work hard or not, that will not affect your future. Start your work sweeping floors, and you will die sweeping floors. Upward mobility is next to impossible. The “important” men in Egypt today got their positions in most cases because their fathers (or grandfathers) were “important.” Actual work is considered “déclassé”. The elites have not provided leadership or good management. My proof, the condition of Egypt today. The elites are the ones who have, with help from clerics of all faiths, told the “masses” that “We are in charge. You are worthless. Your efforts do not matter. You do not matter. You are poor because God needs poor people (I have actually heard this).” The poor are taught that they are not responsible. They are even taught not to worry about this life at all – wait until the next one. Who taught them this? – the elites. Do not blame the troops for the results of the actions of the generals.

      • Joe

        I agree with most of your comment, but going forward Egypt needs capitalism. The top-down corruption you refer to would be somewhat alleviated if power was not as centralized. Case in point – the central bank has debased the currency to a point that has hurt the poor far greater than lack of jobs can. Your point about promotions for the well connected is self-regulated by a free market. Companies compete for talent in a free market. If they don’t hire the best then it’s their loss. A competing company will.

        • sam enslow

          The central bank spent billions of hard currency defending the pound. It was the market that drove its value down. The currency is still supported artificially.
          Loss doesn’t mean anything here. I would like to see totally private companies; however, “normal business practices” are not practiced here. Corruption, including old fashioned protection rackets, rule everything. Laws and regulations mean little or nothing if you are politically powerful or can pay a little sweet. Even the street venders pay “rent” to someone. The rule of law in Egypt is a myth. If many governmental and semi-private companies were to be privatized now, the situation would be the same as what happened in Russia after the collapse of the USSR, Oligarchy. There are also myths that must be confronted. For example, “interest” is not charged; however there is a “cash price” and a “credit price”. The difference is interest but it cannot be called that.
          You are correct that the government needs to be decentralized. There is a strong desire of those in government to “control” everything. They thus control very little, but they increase the amount of sweets that must be paid. Private enterprise and entrepreneurship is not encouraged. Very little here is encouraged. It seems at times that everyone is looking for a reason to punish someone.

          • Ahmed Bata

            all that is one pile, and the entitlement endemic to the psyche of the “poor”, is a separate pile. I agree the “elite” are corrupt, and they are also incompetent on top of it, same as every other single class in Egypt, from theologians to politicians and business men. The poor are a large majority though, and subsidizing their entitlements is a non-starter for economic growth. The rich are also getting subsidized, with below market energy subsidies, tax evasions, lack of property taxes, etc…But the poor and socialism is the reason there is no viable political answer to the Muslim brotherhood. All secular political activity in Egypt is hopeless, short sited, lacking long term depth, and unable to seperate the functions of government from that of charities and NGOs. We need a right wing or at least center right, political movement that acknowledges all have a large part to play for economic recovery, including the “poor”. We are so far behind, we are still struggling with union sponsored “sit in” strikes, and “bread riots”.

          • sam enslow

            You will have strikes and bread riots as long as people are hungry and no alternatives to subsidized bread are available. Strikes will continue as long as managers are not responsible for results and have the skills to actually manage and develop staffs. Perhaps in the short term, all benefits could be means tested. Egypt is in a phase of denial. It cannot avoid the world economy. No “special rules” apply to Egypt. Prices must increase to reality, and wages must increase – along with productivity. Right now Egypt is in a Catch 22 (To get out of the army, you must be crazy. If you want out of the army, you are not crazy).
            With proper communication and a government willing to talk with the people (rather than at them) and a real fight against corruption, Egypt can become the richest country in the Middle East. But nothing can happen until the effort is made. I have previously published a ten year plan for Egypt with a set of goals to be reached during that period. The goals were such that each milestone would mean improvements in many facets of the Egyptian economy. The 10 year goal was to make Cairo and Alexandria Universities rated among the top 15 universities in the world. I also suggested a civil service by examination system. Merit has to be more important than family. Managers must be responsible for results. I have also suggested that someone talk to those US companies which have a total of about $1 Trillion in off shore accounts looking for places to be invested. What would they require to invest in Egypt?. I am speaking of companies like Apple, Google, Cisco, and others which could affect all aspects of the Egyptian economy. They could provide jobs to Egypt’s growing number of jobless university graduates, but they are not interested in playing Egyptian “fun and games”. There are many poor and they must be included in any solution for Egypt, but now they are powerless to do anything positive. It is the elite who have the responsibility to lead, to educate, and to keep their hands out of other people’s pockets. But before anything can change, Egyptians must admit they made some mistakes. The problems in Egypt were not caused by others.

          • Mohammad Sibghathullah Khan

            you know that there is no political answer to Muslim Brotherhood but you keep trying socialism and capitalism these are not the solutions Islam is the solution.

          • Mohammad Sibghathullah Khan

            See the example of Turkey Erdogan pushed Turkey to the Top by following the Islamic model of growth

          • Joe

            Turkey is doing just OK despite Islam not because of it. Islam is a determent to a free and open society. Religion is personal and should remain 100% out of politics. Why do you think Egypt’s tourism industry isn’t booming despite Egypt’s countless attractions? Maybe It’s because of attacks by Islamic Jihad in Luxor that kills 60 tourists? Or maybe the countless attacks in Sharm? The overall world view of Islam? Or maybe the idiot Morsi appointing somone from Gamaa Islamiya to be Luxor’s governor?

            By the way, If you take oil out of the equation, All the arab countries combined export less than Finland; a country of 5.5 million. Is this the type of productivity Islam inspires?

            Islam is a solution (more like a disease) to destroy a civilization.

          • Mohammad Sibghathullah Khan

            Western Capitalism was based on exploitation of cheap raw materials of Thirld world countries. And it is exploitative and not just. Now slowly the Tide is turning China and India with cheap labour are coming up.Further why are you people so short sighted U. S has been a orld power only since the end of IInd world war and already is in decline.World history is replete with Rise and Fall of Nations.Muslims are going through a decadent phase because of their mistakes so don’t exult and reflect cooly on what is just for the whole world and not just your country or race.

  • Ahmed Bata

    This is the battle I’m talking about. The employees want a cush subsidized job. The sales are public to the highest bidder. Some businesses get no bidders at all, because they are in such bad shape, and the employees are a liability, not an asset. We have to foster a business friendly environment now, to develop riches, before we can tax and redistribute that wealth. I would love a link to your 10 point plan. See below.

    “The lawsuits have been brought by activists and lawyers who alleged that companies were sold off too cheaply in moves representative of the corrupt business practices during the Mubarak era.

    Legal troubles

    Subsequent rulings have plunged a number of foreign companies operating in Egypt into legal limbo, which could scare off much-needed investment from abroad and add to an already difficult business climate.”

    Many Gulf companies were exposed to the risk of renationalisation.

    • sam enslow

      Here are the basic points of the 10 year plan, based on JFK’s, “We will take a man to the moon and bring him back in this decade.” Note not just the specific targets mentioned but also how they would affect all aspects of society and the economy. Most do not require a lot of money, but lead to considerable economic growth.
      10 Years: Alexandria and Cairo Universities to be rated, internationally, as two of the top 15 universities in the world. India did this. So can Egypt.
      7 Years: Egypt to be energy and water independent.
      5 Years: Egypt’s farms are small and labor intensive. Egypt to be a major exporter of specialty crops (spices , pharmaceutical plants and organic produce). Processing plants add jobs and value to these crops.
      4 Years: World class transportation and communication infrastructure.
      3 Years: All government positions and promotions to be via civil service examination.
      3 Years: Corruption limited as much as humans can avoid it. Good example: Republic of Georgia.
      2 Years: Egypt adopts all international standards for business, including the uniform business law code, accounting standards, quality standards, Transparency a must. Any stock listed in Egypt should qualify to be listed in NYC or London. This enabled Chile’s economy to boom. Reform of judiciary so cases can be heard/resolved in a timely manner, especially “small claims.”
      1 Year: Finish a total inventory of Egyptian companies to see which are viable or not. Establish a one stop shop for all investors in Egypt. Create a climate that encourages investment and small business start-ups. Protection of all firms from protection rackets. Elimination of street venders and/or their relocation to established flea markets or swap shops.
      I am sure other projects can be adopted, but this is a focused start, and, “A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”

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