Hossam Bahgat writes about the recent verdicts against former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his sons, and how Egyptians unwittingly paid for their lavish lifestyles over the years.
Aliaa Hamed muses on why Egypt’s revolutionaries are boycotting the elections. Read more »
Last Friday, the online version of the Egyptian daily, Al Ahram, reported that Egypt is slowing down its payments for commodities, especially food. Apparently, because the country’s foreign currency reserves are currently about $17 billion—which means the Egyptians are coming close to the minimum amounts of reserves needed to cover imports for 3-4 months—the Central Bank has become “particularly cautious” about allocating these funds. Upon hearing the news, one former IMF and Treasury Department official wrote to me: “So it begins…central bank has a delicate balancing act…withhold too long and it gets blamed, but it needs to slow the drain…often see this in advance of em [emerging market] crisis.” There has been some happy talk recently, most notably from IMF chief Christine LaGarde, about the state of Egypt’s finances, but it seems clear that the Egyptians are going to need additional assistance. Their likely patrons will be the Saudis, Emiratis, and Kuwaitis who poured $12 billion in various forms into Egypt right after the July 3, 2013 coup and, in an implicit recognition that the Egyptian economy is in disastrous condition, the three Gulf states have committed an additional $8 billion. The Gulfies may come to regret their investment in Egypt, but for now they remain unwavering in their support for Cairo. It is true as some Emiratis have grumbled in private and stated publicly that they will not keep pouring money down a black hole, but for now at least the assistance will continue to flow. The funding from the Gulf is not just to keep the economy afloat but also to ensure that Egypt follows a particular political trajectory that does not pose a threat to the Saudis, Emiratis, and Kuwaitis or their common strategic interests. Read more »
My friend, Bassem Sabry, died suddenly on April 29. There have been many moving tributes to his memory over the last few weeks. I do not have much to add other than the fact that Bassem was a light unto Egyptians and all his friends around the world. Read more »
Is Islamic Jihad getting soft? Most likely not, but last Sunday, Jodi Rudoren had an interesting piece in the New York Times about the group. For those not familiar with the details of Islamic Jihad (sometimes referred to as Palestinian Islamic Jihad), it was founded in the late 1970s by Palestinian students studying in Egypt, frustrated that, for all the rhetorical demands in the Arab world and beyond for the establishment of a Palestine state, no one was doing much about it. As the group’s name implies, its focus was exclusively liberating Palestine—from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean—through violence. Read more »
David Roberts, lecturer in the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London, based at the Joaan Bin Jassim Staff College in Qatar, offers expert insight into the recent tensions among the major GCC states.
“I love all the countries of the Gulf, and they all love me.” With this less than subtle statement, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the vocal Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood scholar tried to do his part to repair regional relations in the Gulf that have badly frayed in recent weeks. Long-brewing discontent erupted in early March with the unprecedented withdrawal of the Saudi, Emirati, and Bahraini ambassadors from Qatar. Subsequent mediation from Kuwait’s Emir has led the protagonists to the cusp of a modus vivendi, and a vague document has been agreed upon. Read more »
From the Potomac to the Euphrates examines how debates about Mideast policy in Washington connect to the region, with a special focus on Egypt and Turkey.