By Abdulrahman al-Rashed
9 June 2014
The political move of enabling Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to become the president of Egypt via elections went well. The country did not turn upside down as some people predicted and the opposition’s threats to obstruct the elections yielded no results. Foreign political parties, particularly the United States surrendered to the new reality once the election results were announced and backed down from their stance in support of the legitimacy of ousted President Mohammad Mursi.
Almost all political and security fears were either overcome or neutralized. President Sisi is now in direct charge of the state after he indirectly managed it for almost a year. The question is: how will he confront the accumulated economic failures threatening the entire state and his presidency?
Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz was the first to congratulate Sisi for winning the elections. His move urged everyone to take a stance that strengthens the Egyptian state. During his speech congratulating Sisi, the king called for a summit to support Egypt’s economy. These magic words pushed experts and the general public to realize that Sisi will stay and that he’s not just a man for a phase. The second message which the king conveyed during his speech is that support is not merely a political stance that has its regional calculations against Iran, the Brotherhood and other bullying forces, and that it also carries a project for the 90 million Egyptians.
Meeting Saudi Arabia’s Call
The UAE met Saudi Arabia’s call and immediately voiced its complete support of the donors’ conference and of the economic salvation project. Emirati officials were quoted as saying that a specialized international institution is working on studies and a work plan to submit to the Egyptian command.
The important case is the economy and not the political slogans which Mursi’s government tried to market and which ended up engaging the Brotherhood in domestic political disputes that have nothing to do with economy. This is what really triggered people’s anger and pushed them to take to the streets to call for ousting the Brotherhood’s cabinet in 2013 and for ousting Mubarak’s cabinet before that. Mursi chose to send his government’s bills to Gulf States and at the same time he chose to sleep with the Iranians and with all the rivals of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
It’s not difficult to realize that the crisis of Mubarak’s governance lied in the deterioration of political management of the state. Although Mubarak at some point hired competent people, like former Prime Minister Ahmad Nathif, corruption and mismanagement by Mubarak’s team led to the failure of all developmental and economic projects. It’s in the interest of all supportive countries - like the moderate Gulf ones and the West - which realize the importance of Egypt for the regions’ stability - to support the Egyptian people not only via political speeches, funds and oil but also via adopting a real renaissance project that enables this exhausted country and its people to stand up. The task is difficult but the opportunity is ripe now that there’s a willing leader.
Is Egypt Really Capable?
Is Egypt really capable of rising and of becoming a country with a strong economy?
Turkey has been through an important transition phase. Turkey passed through important transitional periods, and it is Erdogan’s government only to be credited for the country’s development. The country began to change since civil changes and legislations took place in the 1980s. South Korea has been through the same experience. India, which lived through more difficult circumstances, managed to achieve transition. Egypt must not go through the experience of Pakistan or Nigeria or North Korea - that is the experience between administrative failure and economic failure. The economic rise of Egypt is an important project for the success of Sisi and all political powers that want a stable state. No political development will succeed without economic progress which does not only provide bread for millions but also leads towards a prosperous state.
Egypt’s prosperity will reflect on a region that is swamped with chaos. We don’t only blame the Brotherhood for the dire situation. Egypt was calm and stable during Mubarak’s very long time in power. It was a dormant state. Controlling the region and saving revolutions require integrated forces that have political and geographic expansion capable of providing stability.
Unlike those who finance chaos in Egypt because they think this will help them prove that Sisi’s governance is a failure, Saudi Arabia and the UAE need to help Egypt succeed, not out of spite for the Brotherhood but because this serves the interest of all Arabs.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.