Tag Archives: Egyptian coup


While it is always delightful to see political Islam in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood take one in the eye the military coup does not really solve anything.

As Spengler pointed out two days ago, “Egypt needs about $20 billion a year in external subsidies; a smaller amount would forestall the worst effects of the economic crisis.”

The economics of Egypt have gone from awful to dire in the last ten years. Political Islam has pretty much destroyed the tourist industry which was, more or less, the only currency generator Egypt had. And the politics of subsidy – both food and fuel are heavily subsidized – mean that no one who hopes to get elected is going to inflict the pain necessary to turn the Egyptian economy around.

Spengler again, “Egypt remains a pre-modern society, with nearly 50% illiteracy, a 30% rate of consanguineal marriage, a 90% rate of female genital mutilation, and an un- or underemployment rate over 40%.”

Unfortunately, all of these are cultural rather than economic variables. Politically, from Nasser onwards, the Arab nationalist secularists were largely concerned with suppressing Islamic fundamentalism rather than offering alternatives to it. And, to that end, they were willing to largely ignore the rural and the poor in Egypt, silencing them with subsidy but offering very little else.

Various commentators have pointed to the weakness of Egyptian vivil institutions. The Army being the only relatively stable institution in the country. But, parallel to the Army, the Muslim Brotherhood provided what the government could not – hope.

Today’s coup is being celebrated. But it will solve nothing until and unless the Muslim Brotherhood’s institutional challenge is met with a deep commitment by the secularists to the creation of civil society.

Which is the best case scenario; the worst case is either a hight or low intensity, potentially three way, civil war between the displaced Brotherhood, the secularists (of all stripes) and the Army.

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