This week, Egypt Armed Forces Chief of Staff and Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Sidqi Sobhi took advantage of an industrial investment meeting in Abu Dhabi for an opportunity to mend fences with Saudi and Gulf rulers, who not only refuse to help – but even to talk to – the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo.
The line the Egyptian general pitched was simple: The Egyptian military ended its political role when it transferred civilian rule to the Brotherhood in the summer of 2012. So, even those who don’t much like the Brotherhood should not punish all of Egypt. “We are not political, we don’t want to mix in politics because we suffered a lot because of this in the last six months,” he said. “But sometimes we can help in a problem, we can play a part if the situation becomes more complicated,” said Gen. Sobhi without elaborating.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Middle East sources say that by “more complicated,” the Egyptian general was referring to three major concerns:
1. Egyptian foreign currency reserves continue to bleed dangerously and no one knows how to stop the disastrous process. By April, it is predicted that no more than $4 billion will remain for a population of 80-90 million souls.
2. Egypt’s industrial plants are working at just 50 percent capacity because fuel is scarce and the funds to for its purchase even scarcer.
3. Gas for powering electricity is running out. More and more areas are no longer receiving regular electricity – some none at all. The water supply is also affected.
Morsi and the Brothers seek 100 pc of parliament seats
But the Egyptian defense minister’s appeal went unheeded. This is not just because of the Gulf rulers’ displeasure with Egypt’s Islamist rulers, but because they strongly disapprove of their slackness in getting to grips with the country’s desperate economic straits.
The have learned that instead of getting down to business, President Mohamed Morsi and Egyptian MB leader Mohammed Badie have cooked up a three-part plan of action that puts the economy on a back burner.
a). The Brotherhood has decided not to settle for a parliamentary majority in the coming general election – most likely in April or June – but to aim for 100 percent of all seats.
b). To set the stage for their campaign, the Brothers have installed their loyalists in the governates of Egypt’s 19 provinces. Akhwanization (the spreading of Brotherhood values) is going full steam ahead across Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood leadership turned to this course when they realized they would never exercise full control over the restive capital and its chronic protest movements centering on Tahrir Square. So they turned their attention to the country at large in the hope that Cairo would become an isolated Island in the predominantly loyal country.
c). In the interests of boosting their popularity in the coming election, Morsi and Badie dropped Egypt’s application for a long-term International Monetary Fund $4.8 billion loan to tide the economy over. This saved them from the compulsion to execute painful spending cutbacks, downsizing the vast Egyptian civil service, reduce food subsidies and cut away the dead wood weighing down on the Egyptian economy.
The result of these measures would have been mass unemployment and disaster for the Brothers at the polls.
Gulf rulers don’t see Egypt hanging on for three more months
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources say there are two opposite approaches regarding Egypt’s calamitous economic plight:
The Morsi approach is upbeat, maintaining that Egypt can keep going for three or four months until parliamentary elections. The Brotherhood will then win 100 percent of the house and can then safely impose the necessary harsh economic measures that would hurt every part of the population, but hope to put the economy on its feet.
This approach has Gulf rulers up in arms. They don’t believe the Egyptian economy can wait another three to four months before tough remedies are put in place. They warn that a delay that long will see the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi crash and Egypt degenerate into a failed state.
Whichever approach is realistic, the Egyptian people will very soon be faced with extreme hardship and a heavy price tab for their revolution.