The “people's impeachment”, as a result of which the legally elected president of Egypt, Mohammed Mursi, was forced to leave his post, again plunged the country into a state of political confusion. In the context of ongoing thousands of demonstrations and actual paralysis, the military appointed the head of state of the Constitutional Court interim head of state. Experts interpreted this situation as a military coup, followed by more serious events.
The specificity of Egypt’s development after achieving political independence was that in this country with a rapid growth of the population, behind which the economic growth rates are not keeping pace, there are practically no hydrocarbon resources, and the economy is tied to external factors. Over the past decades, Egypt has been in the list of so-called critical states in terms of standard of living, human development index and property stratification.
Old problems of new Egypt
After the “infitah” (open door) policy, first announced by President Anwar al-Sadat (1970 – 1981), the country began to live off foreign investments (moreover, in recent years, the Egyptian economy needed annual investments of at least 16 billion dollars). Egypt ranked second in the Middle East (after Israel) in terms of the amount of aid received from the US (1,3 billion dollars in military spending and another 250 million dollars annually).
At the end of the 90s, in order to activate the national industry, a privatization program was announced and government subsidies began to be cut; other stabilization measures were taken that allowed 2000's to reduce inflation and capital flight abroad at the beginning of 2005's. However, these measures rather quickly exhausted themselves, and the need arose to implement structural economic reforms, which the Egyptian government carefully began in the XNUMX year.
The main problem of the economy remained the Egyptian industry (giving 30 percent of GDP), extremely uncompetitive, with a pronounced import-substituting character with the dynamics of industrial production of only two percent. The leading industries are traditionally food, textile, chemical, mechanical engineering, mining accounts for only one percent of GDP. In terms of competitiveness of goods, the Arab Republic of Egypt (Egypt) ranked 65 in the list of countries from 101, behind Turkey, Tunisia and even Jordan. The Egyptians do not have their own developments in the field of modern industrial innovations, and cooperation with foreigners in this area contributed to the conversion of AER into a market for non-demanded random technologies, often already worked out and causing serious environmental damage. Since 2004, Cairo has topped the list of the dirtiest cities in the world with 169 mg / cu. m (for comparison: in the second and third in this list, New Delhi and X-NUMX Calcutta, 150, respectively).
Agriculture is also experiencing serious difficulties: of the total area of the country for agricultural purposes only 2,5 percent is used, irrigation canals require constant modernization. In recent years, the area under crops has been steadily declining due to the desertification process, and there were not enough funds for the implementation of the “green recreation” project. The colossal increase in population and the rapid process of urbanization led to the fact that over the past three decades, the area of fertile land has decreased by 25 percent, every year in Egypt it drops out of turnover to 60 thousand feddans of land.
The country satisfies its food needs by no more than 35 percent. The solution of the food problem in recent years has been at the expense of imports (more than three billion dollars annually), but prices on the world market have constantly increased, and the long-term agricultural development program developed by the Hosni Mubarak government (up to 2017 year) has not been implemented yet. Therefore, a significant part of the population lives at the expense of state subsidies for basic foodstuffs, these very subsidies for a long time alleviated social tensions (the consumer basket was one of the cheapest in the world).
Now the problem of agriculture, which is directly related to water supply, is aggravated by the fact that the sources of the Nile are controlled by a new (rather problematic) state - South Sudan, and the countries that are members of the so-called Nile Basin Initiative (Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi) , taking advantage of the political instability in Egypt, began to implement their own projects on the Nile (in violation of the 1959 water distribution agreement), which in the coming years could significantly reduce the number of from the Nile water and put it on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.
Domestic and foreign policy Mursi: tactics without strategy
The whole complex of the above economic problems went to Mohammed Mursi as a legacy of the previous regime. The new president represented the largest and oldest Islamic organization of the Muslim world - the Muslim Brotherhood, which had operated illegally for many decades and finally got the chance to put its program into practice. The task was complicated by the fact that the country was split into supporters and opponents of Islamic rule almost equally. Of course, it was assumed that any actions by the new head of state would be closely monitored by both secular forces (who insisted on early economic reforms) and his Islamic opponents - the Salafists (who were awaiting the program to Islamize social and political life). This situation required the president to take extremely cautious actions, to develop mechanisms for coexistence in a wide political spectrum, to seek a compromise with the opposition in order to share responsibility for possible (and they were obvious) failures in the economic sphere. Moreover, in his election program, Mursi solemnly promised to become president for all.
However, having come to power through democratic means, the winning party was not ready for democracy. Putting on all the burden of power, the new head of state focused on strengthening his own position. A wave of indignation was caused by his aggressive personnel policy aimed at cleaning the officers and judges corps and the distribution of government posts (including at the local level) among his supporters. The chief of the army general staff, the commanders of the air defense, navy and air force of Egypt were sent to resign;
At the same time, Adel al-Hayat, suspected of committing a terrorist act in 1997, was appointed mayor of tourist Luxor, killing several dozen foreign tourists. After such an appointment, meetings and demonstrations began in Luxor, and the Minister of Tourism resigned. One of the most difficult ministries - regional development - Mursi ordered to lead Mohammed Ali Bishr - the closest relative. In the future, the president replaced all the provincial governors 27 with his appointees.
The resignation of the Prosecutor General caused discontent of the judiciary, which announced a strike, and the Supreme Constitutional Court (a very important link in the Egyptian state system and an active participant in the political process since 1971) began the process of delegitimizing state institutions. By its decision, the court (2012 in June) dissolved the lower house of parliament, then declared the constitutional commission (writing the basic law) illegitimate, revealed violations in the procedure for passing electoral law, and in June 2013 of the year decided to dissolve the upper house of parliament - the Shura Council. The country was left without a legislative power and a constitution. Mohammed Mursi further aggravated the situation by issuing constitutional declarations, in which he gave himself exclusive powers, for which he was immediately called Pharaoh.
Simultaneously with the consolidation of power, Mursi tried to solve economic issues. One of his first steps in this direction were negotiations with the IMF, which ended in a loan agreement for 4,8 billion dollars, subject to a reduction in government subsidies. As a result of the fulfillment by the government of the conditions of the IMF, prices rose sharply, there were long queues behind the gasoline, and power outages began. At the same time, foreign exchange reserves declined dramatically: before the overthrow of Mubarak, they were estimated at 36 billion dollars, at the end of 2012, they were reduced to 14,5 billion.
The urgent need to feed the population dictated to the new head of state and foreign policy guidelines, which essentially remained the same. The deplorable state of the economy narrowed the field for diplomatic maneuvers, forced the Egyptian leadership to abandon all the ambitions of the regional leader, to show complete loyalty to US policy and to travel around the world with an outstretched hand. It is significant that it was the head of the US State Department, Hillary Clinton, who became the first high-ranking official of Western countries who visited Egypt in July 2012 on an official visit in order to express US support for democratic processes.
The blockade of the Gaza Strip has not been weakened (as promised by the Islamists), on the contrary, it has intensified as a result of flooding of several tunnels connecting Egypt with the Palestinian territory, for which the Salafis sharply criticized Mursi’s policy.
Mohammed Mursi’s visit to Qatar was followed by a statement by that country's Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasem Al-Thani that Doha intends to invest 18 billions of dollars in Egypt’s economy in the next five years.
During Mursi’s visit to Russia (May 2013 of the year), one of the main talks between the leaders of the two states was the issue of a two-billion dollar loan from Egypt, as well as the purchase of Russian energy and grain. With the same purpose, Mursi traveled to China, where the talks focused on a more active inflow of Chinese capital into the Egyptian economy, primarily in construction, energy and water resources. During the visit of the Egyptian leader to Italy, he managed to get investment in the economy in the amount of 800 million euros. At the same time, the entire European Union represented by Jose Barroso promised to increase the amount of financial assistance to Egypt to 500 million euros and allocate another 130 million euros for the employment of Egyptian youth.
There was also a cautious exchange of top-level visits with Iran - for the first time since the rupture of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1979. Tehran also offered Egypt a loan. However, the official statement of Mursi about the severance of diplomatic relations with Damascus and the closure of the embassy in Syria (made on the eve of the planned mass demonstrations, apparently with the aim of distracting the population from internal problems) nullified the dialogue with Iran that had begun.
The outcome of these steps of the new president was the rallying of the opposition, which (more than 30 parties and movements) united in the National Salvation Front (FTS) led by Mohammed elBaradei. At the same time, the popular movement “Tamarrod” (“Uprising”) began collecting signatures in support of the president’s resignation.
New regional configuration
The removal of Muhammad Mursi from power did not bring political stability, and the top military leadership, apparently, does not have a clear plan for further political “reset”. At the same time, the Muslim Brotherhood refuses to participate in the negotiation process and discuss the road map of the country's further political development. The stumbling block is Mursi himself, his status and further fate, since formally he continues to remain the legally elected president and it is not yet clear what will be incriminated to him. In such a situation, it is not yet necessary to wait for investments to enter the country.
Meanwhile, the regional configuration of forces is beginning to change again, becoming more and more complex and once again confirming that chaos cannot be controlled. Due to the rapidly changing situation and the tasks arising at different stages of the “Arab spring”, regional and extra-regional players act separately, engaging in intense competition with each other. Now it is obvious that the United States, trying to save the face of the democracy that began in Egypt, is drifting after the situation, carefully avoiding calling the incident a military coup, because otherwise they should stop all assistance to the Egyptian army - its main historical ally.
The events in Egypt clearly demonstrate that the US’s role in the entire region is slowly but steadily decreasing (this is also evidenced by the increasing convergence of Iraq with Iran, the active unwillingness of the US to get involved in the Syrian conflict and their actual departure from the Palestinian-Israeli perspective, the announcement of negotiations with the Taliban on the future of Afghanistan and much more). Of course, this does not mean that the United States will leave the region, however, a change in the vector of their policies in the Arab world from the Middle East to the Persian Gulf states, whose control over energy resources is becoming a priority, is being observed. Objectively, the Asia-Pacific region is becoming more important for US strategic interests.
Qatar, the main sponsor of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, looks the most affected. The first step of the new Egyptian authorities was the closure of Al-Jazeera TV company, which was accused, not without reason, of inciting Islamist sentiment. In Qatar itself, there was a change of power: Emir Hamad renounced the post of the head of state and with him left the political arena, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim - an active supporter of regime change in the secular countries of the Middle East, whose name was directly tied to initiating the process "Arab Spring". Therefore, this state is likely in the near future to reduce the amount of funding for “revolutionary processes” and focus on its internal accumulated problems. And this, in turn, can lead to a political regrouping of forces in the League of Arab States (LAS), which has essentially turned from a regional organization into a tool for advancing the political interests of the oil monarchies.
Painfully perceived the change of power in Egypt and Turkey, where the Justice and Development Party, effectively neutralizing the influence of the Turkish military on the political process, saw the Egyptian Muslim Brothers as its allies. Hence the harsh statement of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who called the removal of the Egyptian president unacceptable and described the role of the army in these events as a military coup, emphasizing that the main priority for the Egyptians should be to preserve the gains of the revolution.
But Saudi Arabia (which recently had rather difficult relations with Qatar), viewing Egypt as its main regional ally, in turn favorably perceived the events that took place, which is confirmed by the telegram of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz to the new head of the Egyptian state, in which he on behalf of the Saudi people and on my own behalf, congratulated Adly Mansur on assuming the leadership of Egypt. This clearly demonstrates the attitude of the kingdom to the Muslim Brotherhood, their regional offices, allies and sponsors.
The arrival of the military, of course, is preferable for Israel from the point of view of preserving the unshakable Camp David agreements, which Mursi partly violated when he conducted a military operation against the militants on the Sinai Peninsula and reinforced the military contingent there.
In this regard, Russia seems to be opening up new opportunities for strengthening its positions and informational influence, as well as more decisively promoting initiatives for a peaceful settlement of the Syrian conflict. Especially since Moscow’s firm position on this issue, despite unprecedented pressure from the West and the oil monarchies, provided it with the role of an important political player in the Middle East region, which was and remains geographically close and the zone of Russia's most important strategic interests.