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Bronwen Maddox: “Obama must end aid to Egypt”

Editor of Prospect and expert on global politics, Bronwen Maddox gave her opinion on the current situation in Egypt in yesterday’s The Times. The article titled ‘Obama must end aid to Egypt before more die’ is well worth reading.

Bronwen believes that the West’s “tangled and tentative” response to what she describes as “the worst crisis that Egypt has faced in the two years since revolution first gripped Tahrir Square” must be changed. News over the weekend that Egypt’s Internal Minister plans to recreate the securty and intelligence forces of Mubarak’s 30 year rule is, Browen claims, a formula for civil war.

She advocates an immediate response by foreign governments to be necessary: “they can’t afford to equivocate now”. The West’s “statements of tortuous caution” issued so far have not been sufficient, instead the US can use the power of its aid and Britain and the EU can offer economic help. Bronwen fears that otherwise reconciliation will become a fantasy.

Egypt’s complexity is a result of divisions between secular liberals (who support links with the West), other secularists (who support the military) and the more conservative/religious (who look to Islam for rules). Growing problems in the country include a rise in inflation and unemployment alongside a collapse in foreign investment and tourism.

The next steps are clear to Bronwen: “Mr Obama should now threaten to cut off aid.” Although it is tempting to suggest that the military can bring order to the country, Bronwen reminds of the example of Pakistan  in 1999 when General Musharraf overthrew the government which ultimately delayed the country’s return to democracy by two years.

Bronwen recognises that removing aid may not persuade those who have seized power in Egypt to surrender at the negotiating table but she concludes “as the death toll rapidly rises, it is a threat worth making.”

Click here to read the article in full

Michael Binyon: latest report on Egypt

Renowned foreign affairs journalist Michael Binyon and Catherine Philp discuss the latest in Egypt in the World section of this morning’s Times. Reporting on the news from diplomats and Egyptian sources that President Morsi is likely to be given refuge by Saudi Arabia, Michael and Catherine suggest that “despite their intense dislike of the muslim brotherhood, the Saudis are eager to resolve the stand-off in Cairo.”

The fact that those living in exile in Saudi Arabia are rarely given public or political access is described as “a point that would appeal to Egyptian Army leaders.” Michael and Catherine contemplate Mr Morsi’s options and where he may prefer to be exiled, noting that there continues to be debate over the possibility of his reinstatement.

While Islamists hope the West will support Mr Morsi’s return to power, the interim government is relying on US and EU delegates to convince them that this is not an option. However, it seems there may not be a peaceful resolve as analysts have revealed that Brotherhood leaders would like the opportunity to be portrayed as martyrs through confrontation.

Click here to read the report in full

Expert Reactions: Nasser Saidi on the challenges ahead for Egypt

Rounding up our thought provoking series of reactions on the current state of Egypt; we spoke to the former Lebanese Minister of economy and industry, Nasser Saidi. He suggested economic factors have played a big role in encouraging protest, and remain a pertinent challenge for whatever government may emerge.

Egypt’s already fragile political transition has now become more uncertain, with the forcible removal of its first democratically elected president from office by the army. Will a new government be more inclusive, more consensus-building than the Morsi government which was dominated by a Muslim Brothers political agenda? Inclusiveness, broader political representation with less extremism will be required to undo the damage to the country’s institutions.

It is important to note that Morsi and his government failed in large measure due to their mishandling and neglect of the economy. A depreciating Egyptian pound, rising inflation, a budget deficit reaching 12% of GDP, declining in real wages, rising youth unemployment all signal growing macroeconomic instability. Investment – both domestic and foreign – plummeted and job creation was static. In fact jobs were destroyed. The 1.5 million new young entrants into the Egyptian labour force over the past two years are despairing. Expectations had been high that a post-Mubarak era would bring improved economic conditions and a ‘trickle down’ of economic benefits. There were bright promises but dismal performance. We should not be surprised that youth ended up once more in Tahrir square. The daunting task facing the President-elect and a new government will be to manage expectations and deliver in a short honeymoon period.

Expert Reactions: Chris Parry on Egypt – “ripple effect on Turkey?”

As we wait to hear on the shape and make-up of Egypt’s ‘transition government’ we spoke to strategic forecaster, author & commentator Rear Admiral Christopher J. Parry about the effect the takeover will have both within Egypt and in the wider middle east.

The Army takeover of the government in Egypt has put the developed, western world in a difficult position. It must be difficult for political theorists and liberal to confront the sad truth that democracy, in this case, has had to be saved from itself.

What Mohammed Morsi failed to recognize is that democratic transition involves delivery on issues that bear significantly on popular expectations. There was an assumption in Egypt, as with any other country moving from authoritarian rule to democracy that democracy brings prosperity. Experience shows that prosperity follows democracy, accountability and market reforms.

The difficult question for the Army and all those who wish Egypt well is what happens if Egyptians in the next presidential elections vote for another Muslim Brotherhood government?

The obvious question with regard to events in Egypt is – what will be the ripple effect on Turkey? The Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has conducted a sustained personal, judicial and institutional attack on the armed forces over the past 10 years to ensure that it no longer has the power to intervene in politics. About 20 per cent of previous senior officers are imprisoned after being convicted of complicity in nebulous coup plots. One suspects that, as long as Turkey’s economy continues to grow, Erdogan will be able to contain the frustrations of those (just under 50 per cent) who did not – and do not – support him. However, the Army still maintains a constitutional right – and the accepted moral responsibility – to preserve the Ataturk heritage and the pre-eminence of secularism.



Expert Reactions: Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald speaks to Chartwell on unrest in Egypt

With reports coming in or arrest warrants for Muslim Brotherhood members and that Adli Mansour has been sworn in as interim president, a media frenzy of opinion is underway on unrest in Egypt.

Earlier we spoke to Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald and asked him how asked him how the west should react to the recent unrest in Egypt.

“Of course, as Obama and Hague said overnight, we can’t support military intervention in politics in this way. But it’s happened and we should now side with those trying to prevent civil war and restart a valid political process. In the long run the check to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and AKP in Turkey may be seen as necessary in promoting durable and inclusive politics.”

To find out more about Nigel Sheinwald, or to book him as a geopolitical speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

Expert reactions: John Hulsman on Egyptian revolution 2013

Dramatic developments in Egypt as Mohamed Morsi is ousted and the constitution is suspended. We spoke to John Hulsman, a leading expert on the political economy of the Middle East, about what we should make of these events. Here are his take home points:

“This amounts to little more than rearranging deck chairs on the titanic: The army couldn’t deal with Egypt’s huge economic and social problems, and neither could the Muslim Brotherhood; Why would anyone think a bunch of technocrats, with the army pulling the strings behind and no legitimacy of any kind, has any chance to do better?”

“The media have made this into a parlor game – who’s up, who’s down – in reality what it demonstrates is the entrenched nature of Egypt’s calamity. Look for even stormier days ahead.”

“Analytically, in most cases revolutions have made things far worse, not better. Bet on countries that grow slowly, frustratingly, organically. Betting on revolutions, since Edmund Burke, is a loser.”

“The gloomy history of revolutions is that the almost always the most organised group ends up in power: France- Jacobins, Russia- Bolsheviks, China- Maoists, and in Egypt- The Army. Groups who are disciplined, unafraid of violence and willing to seize power will have an advantage irrespective of if they have a majority. If you want to know which way Egypt will turn, keep your eyes firmly on the army (CNN swooning about the twitteraty to the contrary).”

As this latest stage of the Egyptian revolution proceeds we’ll bring you more reaction from global experts.

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