The Muslim Brotherhood Builds a Totalitarian State in Egypt
Buried in a news item in the Egypt Independent on prospective foreign aid for Egypt is the following eye-opener:
The government decided to lower subsidies on oil products from LE95.5 billion in the 2011-2012 budget to LE25.5 billion in the 2012-2013 budget by applying a coupon system on butane, gas and diesel in addition to other procedures for rationalizing energy consumption.
Cutting subsidies on oil products by nearly three-quarters through a coupon system puts the daily operations of the Egyptian economy directly into the hands of the state. To put the magnitude of this move in perspective: Egypt's 2009 oil consumption (the last year for which data are available) was 683,000 bls/day, or about $25 billion a year in current prices. The 95.5 billion Egyptian pound subsidy, equal to about $15.7 billion at the currnet exchange rate, covered three-fifths of the bill. Given that almost half of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day, that is not surprising. The Wall Street Journal reported March 22, "Subsidies already absorb at least 28% of Egypt's budget outlay of 476 billion Egyptian pounds ($79 billion). About two-thirds of that goes toward fuel and energy, with the rest aimed at reducing food prices, particularly for wheat."
Egypt has suffered from chronic fuel shortages since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak early in 2011, including repeated breakdowns in electricity provision. The National reported Aug. 19,
A severe electricity blackout hitting many parts of Cairo shut down the Egyptian stock exchange and delayed trading for two hours. When the market finally opened, stocks fell in value by about US$164 million (Dh602.3m) in the early hours before regaining lost ground later. The exchange quickly moved to assure the market it would not happen again...Egypt runs one of the most inefficient subsidy systems in the world, where two thirds of the total subsidy bill of 150 billion Egyptian pounds (Dh90.69bn) goes on fuel. Much of that is used to keep natural gas below market prices. About 90 per cent of the country's electricity generating capacity is from natural gas. It is no surprise gas shortages affect the electricity supply in the hottest months of the year during peak demand.
It seems likely that the Morsi government will shift food subsidies to a ration card system as well, according to the Egypt Independent. Bread shortages appeared at the end of Ramadan in some Egyptian provinces, al-Ahram reports, and the Morsi government blames corruption by bakers:
Residents of the city of Desouk in the northwestern Nile Delta governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh have been suffering from a shortage of subsidised bread since the beginning of Eid on Sunday, according to the Al-Ahram Arabic news website.">Bakeries, which serve close to three million residents in the governorate, have not received their share of subsidised wheat and have therefore been unable to produce enough bread.
As a result, several bakeries in the city will be closed for the three-day Eid festival.
Burullus, Kafr El-Sheikh city and Riad in the same governorate are also experiencing bread shortages, with many residents complaining that what little bread they are able to buy is of poor quality. Fawzy Abdel-Aziz, undersecretary at the supply ministry, has said the problem is not due to a shortage of subsidised wheat, and has instead accused bakeries of illegally selling subsidised wheat on the black market.
The Morsi government will exploit the crisis to put access to basic necessities of life into the hands of a one-party state. I warned of this in an April 11, 2012 essay in Asia Times:
The Brotherhood believes that widespread hunger will strengthen its political position, and is probably correct to believe this. As the central government's corrupt and rickety system of subsidies collapses, local Islamist organizations will take control of food distribution and establish a virtual dictatorship on the streets. American analysts mistook the protestors of Tahrir Square for revolutionaries. The Muslim Brotherhood now reveals itself to be a revolutionary organization on the Leninist or Nazi model.
The Brotherhood's revolutionary program has been gestating for some time. As food and fuel shortages emerged in the first months of after the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak last year, Islamist organizations already began to fill the vacuum left by the breakdown of the old civil regime. The Ministry of Solidarity and Social Justice began forming "revolutionary committees" to mete out street justice to bakeries, propane dealers and street vendors who "charge more than the price prescribed by law", the Federation of Egyptian Radio and Television reported on May 3, 2011. According to the ministry, "Thugs are in control of bread and butane prices" and "people's committees" are required to stop them.
With nearly half its population dependent on subsidies for necessities, an effective unemployment rate of 40%, and a 45% effective illiteracy rate, Egypt is one of the least-prepared nations of the world for parliamentary democracy. The state rationing system now in preparation will make the local Muslim Brotherhood office the arbiter of whether families eat or starve. There is no more powerful form of social control. It is not necessarily the case that the Morsi government will follow the guidelines of the Brotherhood's sage Sayyid Qutb, whose tract Social Justice in Islam argues for an Islamist-tinged sort of socialism, but the logic of circumstances are pushing them towards this kind of model.
The irony here is that the Muslim Brotherhood may construct a totalitarian state with the help of the International Monetary Fund, including American money. Al-Ahram reports,
International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde will visit Egypt on 22 August, according to an IMF statement on Wednesday. Lagarde's visit will focus on the $3.2 billion loan that Egypt has been asking for since March 2011. No deal has been reached and Egypt's funding problems have steadily worsened during subsequent 18 months of political turmoil. Reuters reported on Wednesday that Egypt would discuss the possibility of a bigger-than-expected $4.8 billion loan from the Washington-based body.
How much financial aid Egypt will receive remains unclear. What is crystal clear is that the Muslim Brotherhood is using economic misery to entrench its power.
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by Khaled Abu Toameh
"Armed robbery in broad daylight." — Palestinians, after Hamas "seized" $750,000 from Gaza bank.
Fatah accused Hamas of "squandering" $700 million of financial aid earmarked for the Palestinian victims of war. Fatah wants to ensure that the millions of dollars intended for the Gaza Strip will pass through its hands and not end up in Hamas's bank accounts. Relying on Fatah in this regard is like asking a cat to guard the milk.
The head of the Palestinian Authority's Anti-Corruption Commission revealed that his group has retrieved $70 million of public funds fund embezzled by Palestinian officials. Arab and Western donors need to make sure that their money does not end up (once again) in the wrong hands. Without a proper mechanism of accountability and transparency, hundreds of millions of dollars are likely to find their way into the bank accounts of both Hamas and Fatah leaders.
by Mudar Zahran
"If Hamas does not like you for any reason all they have to do now is say you are a Mossad agent and kill you." — A., a Fatah member in Gaza.
"Hamas wanted us butchered so it could win the media war against Israel showing our dead children on TV and then get money from Qatar." — T., former Hamas Ministry officer.
"They would fire rockets and then run away quickly, leaving us to face Israeli bombs for what they did." — D., Gazan journalist.
"Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot. That way people had to stay in their homes, even if they were about to get bombed. Hamas held the whole Gazan population as a human shield." — K., graduate student
"The Israeli army allows supplies to come in and Hamas steals them. It seems even the Israelis care for us more than Hamas." — E., first-aid volunteer.
"We are under Hamas occupation, and if you ask most of us, we would rather be under Israeli occupation… We miss the days when we were able to work inside Israel and make good money. We miss the security and calm Israel provided when it was here." — S., graduate of an American university, former Hamas sympathizer.
by Ben Cohen
Now, with the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate having captured key oil wells in the Middle East this year, foreign oil has become an even more lethal financial weapon-of-choice for those seeking to destroy democracy and further escalate the War on Terror.
That President Barack Obama failed even to mention oil as a critical factor in the war against IS during his speech to the nation on September 10, is an omission both revealing and dangerous in terms of how his administration wants to depict the stakes involved in this latest confrontation with the jihadis.
by Lawrence A. Franklin
One Pakistani recruiter of child suicide bombers describes these children as "tools provided by God."
Another Muslim cleric in a madrassa [Islamic boys' school] describes child suicide bombers as "a gift from Allah that we have an unlimited number willing to be sacrificed to teach Americans a lesson."
Using children as suicide bombers will stop when... they stop "condoning the killing of innocents."
by Denis MacEoin
"No religion condones the killing of innocents." — U.S. President Barack Obama, September 10, 2014.
"Islam is a religion of peace." — U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, September 13, 2014.
"There is a place for violence in Islam. There is a place for jihad in Islam." — U.K. Imam Anjem Choudary, CBN News, April 5, 2010.
Regrettably it is impossible to re-interpret the Qur'an in a "moderate" manner. The most famous modern interpretation by Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, leads the reader again and again into political territory, where jihad is at the root of action.
If they deviated from the true faith -- as we are seeing in the Islamic State today -- "backsliders," like pagans, were to be fought until they either accepted Islam or were killed.
In India alone, between 60 and 80 million Hindus may have been put to death by Muslim armies between the years 1000-1525.