A Wedge of New Egypt Pie – with Martyr Sauce

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According to the New York times, Egypt’s foreign currency reserves have fallen from a peak of $36 billion to about $10 billion and could run out entirely by March. Promised loans and funding from the US, Europe, the IMF and Arab neighbors have not materialized, according to the NYT and some reports from Egypt. We are also told they originally rejected an IMF loan but are now seeking to revive it. The IMF will “consider” and a decision will be ready in March – conveniently close to crunch time for Egypt. If no one in Egypt’s leadership can see they are being played over this I will assume they are blinded by greed.

Meanwhile, no one is including mention of the $1 billion loan SCAF was able to conjur up at the end of last year. Or the running cost of Egypt’s several security forces, for that matter. At the time, I asked how much more they had tucked away. Speaking of stashed cash, where are Mubarak’s assets? The endless delays to his trial are also dragging Egypt nearer to the financial abyss. What about the money and property that was tied up in Spain, or the funds embezzled by Mubarak’s crew, cronies and family all these years – where is that small fortune hiding? While we’re at it, didn’t Suzan Mubarak buy her way out of jail by promising to return a wedge of illicit wealth? Is Egypt still supplying subsidized gas to Israel through a deal with a US-owned operation? Why?

What’s really going on here is the international bully boys perfecting their game. For example, we have the US administration talking and meeting with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (probably not short of cash itself) then we see Reuters with a quick follow-up upbeat MB story from the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s economic committee, Ashraf Badr el-Din, suggesting that the Brotherhood and other main parties are moving toward consensus on managing the economy. Take your time, there are only 84 million lives and the stability of the entire region at stake. It’s too much to hope that someone have the guts to stand up and talk honestly about the need to make massive sacrifices over a medium to long term. As long as that is not happening anywhere else, despite the desperate, blindingly obvious need, it sure isn’t going to happen under SCAF’s beady eye.

We will hear lots in the next 6 to 8 weeks about the youth, the unemployment, and the need to make “reforms” (which means cutting subsidies). We won’t hear that this is backed by a huge international cartel of financiers like the IMF or World Bank and companies like Coca Cola etc promising foreign investment for infrastructure development, business growth and employment. In exchange for what? A nice big slice of New Egypt Pie. What a shame the gravy is made from the blood of martyrs.