Welcome to Egypt: The Next Failed State

The Muslim Brotherhood looks likely to cement its lock on Egypt, with this move:

Egyptian military judges dropped convictions against Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Khairat el-Shater, clearing the nominee of the nation’s dominant political party to run in the election, the group’s lawyer said.

“We have taken administrative, legal and judicial measures before the military judiciary and based on this, all convictions have been dropped,” Abdel Monem Abdel Maqsoud said in a phone interview in Cairo yesterday. “All legal obstacles have been removed, and el-Shater now has the right to fully exercise all his political rights,” he said.


If nominated, he will run. If elected, he will make everyone miss Mubarak.

Actually, everybody will miss Mubarak no matter what. Not because he was wonderful, but because he happened to be the last guy in charge before the lights turned off and the food ran out. Had Mubarak somehow survived the Arab Spring, there’s no guarantee he could have staved off Egypt’s impending disaster, detailed already by our own David Goldman. Here’s the bit that always makes me cringe:

Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, beholden to foreign providers for nearly half its total food consumption. Half of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day. Food comprises almost half the country’s consumer price index, and much more than half of spending for the poorer half of the country. This will get worse, not better.

What Egypt needs is to get off its Islamic high horse and get the tourists — and their precious hard currency — coming back. But with a Muslim Brotherhood parliament and a Muslim Brotherhood president? I’m sure there must be an Arabic version of “fuggidaboudit.” Next, Egypt would have to start educating its people and opening up its markets, so as to not be totally dependent on travel dollars — but that’s even less likely.


So the food will run out shortly after the hard currency does — which will be right around the time the last high-ranking Army officer departs permanently for the his new digs on the French Riviera. We’ve seen this game play out many times before.

What we haven’t seen before is how it plays out in a country of 81 million people crowded along the banks of a single river. It’s one thing when tiny Somalia falls apart. And nobody quite cares — not really — if 25 million landlocked and destitute Afghans can’t get their act together. But Egypt has a large and modern Army and sits astride the Suez Canal. And, we shouldn’t forget, shares a border with Islam’s Number One Forever Scapegoat.

I was a bout to say it’s a real shame, but that doesn’t begin to cover a small portion of the disaster awaiting Egypt. And I don’t see a way out. It seems that whenever an Islamic state chokes on its own Islamism, the people always turn to an extra heaping dose of Islam to set things right again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

And if that makes you think of domestic statism and our own Professional Left, well, you’re not the only one. We have our own bitter clingers of a secular religion. Let’s hope the world’s Last Remaining Superpower doesn’t end up going down the same drain Egypt is spiraling ’round.



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