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.
Comment on this item
by Richard Kemp
Would General Allen -- or any other general today -- recommend contracting out his country's defenses if it were his country at stake? Of course not.
The Iranian regime remains dedicated to undermining and ultimately destroying the State of Israel. The Islamic State also has Israel in its sights and would certainly use the West Bank as a point from which to attack, if it were open to them.
There can be no two-state solution and no sovereign Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, however desirable those things might be. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank.
Fatah leaders ally themselves with the terrorists of Hamas, and, like Hamas, they continue to reject the every existence of the State of Israel.
If Western leaders actually want to help, they should use all diplomatic and economic means to make it clear to the Palestinians that they will never achieve an independent and sovereign state while they remain set on the destruction of the State of Israel.
by Louis René Beres
The Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], forerunner of today's Palestinian Authority, was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came into the unintended control of the West Bank and Gaza. What therefore was the PLO planning to "liberate"?
Why does no one expect the Palestinians to cease all deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being considered for admission to statehood?
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States endorsed a "Mandate for Palestine," confirming the right of Jews to settle anywhere they chose between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the core American legacy of support for a Jewish State that President Obama now somehow fails to recall.
A sovereign state of Palestine, as identified by the Arabs -- a Muslim land occupied by "Palestinian" Arabs -- has never existed; not before 1948, and not before 1967. From the start, it was, and continues to be, the Arab states -- not Israel -- that became the core impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
by Timon Dias
It looks as if this new law is meant to serve as a severe roadblock to parties that would like to dismantle the EU in a democratic and peaceful way from within.
A rather dull semantic trick pro-EU figures usually apply, is calling their opponents "anti-Europe."
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Soeren Kern
Austria has emerged as a major base for radical Islam and as a central hub for European jihadists to fight in Syria.
The proposed revisions would, among other changes, regulate the training and hiring of Muslim clerics, prohibit the foreign funding of mosques, and establish an official German-language version of the Koran to prevent its "misinterpretation" by Islamic extremists.
Muslims would be prohibited from citing Islamic sharia law as legal justification for ignoring or disobeying Austrian civil laws.
Leaders of Austria's Muslim community counter that the contemplated new law amounts to "institutionalized Islamophobia."
Official statistics show that nearly 60% of the inhabitants of Vienna are immigrants or foreigners. The massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country, appears irreversible.