President Obama spoke with Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi today to discuss the U.S.-Egyptian bilateral relationship and developments within the region. The President affirmed the United States’ continuing commitment to the strategic partnership with Egypt and emphasized the importance of bilateral cooperation to promote shared interests in counterterrorism and regional security. President Obama expressed his condolences to the Egyptian people for the spate of terrorists attacks they have suffered. The two leaders agreed on the importance of continuing their countries’ close military and intelligence relationships and encouraged President al-Sisi to invest in the political, economic, and social aspirations of the Egyptian people. The two leaders agreed to stay in touch in the weeks and months ahead.
It is failed in the sense that it does not have a cohesive central government whose writ runs to every part of the country.
And of course it is failed due to the complete absence of the rule of law, and failed most of all by the West whose decision to embark on a disastrous military intervention in 2011, which led directly to the ousting and murder of former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was the catalyst for the disaster that has unfolded in the country since.
Recall the alacrity with which the West jumped aboard the Arab Spring after initially being completely wrong-footed by it when it first broke in Tunisia in late 2010 and immediately thereafter hit Egypt, resulting in the toppling of the Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
Both the Ben Ali dictatorship in Tunisia and the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt had been Western clients, lavished with investment, aid, and trade deals even though their prisons were filled with pro-democracy activists and political dissidents. The hypocrisy involved here, you might think, would have shamed those same Western governments – the US, France, and the UK in particular – into non-interference in the face of what appeared to be a region-wide revolutionary movement from below.
But shame is not something that troubles policymakers in Western capitals. When another of their regional allies, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, found his government under pressure as the so-called Arab Spring arrived in Libya next, France, Britain, Italy, and the US performed a complete volte face and backed NATO airstrikes against Libyan military forces on the spurious grounds of protecting civilians.
In truth, Gaddafi was sacrificed on the altar of realpolitik, learning a harsh lesson when it comes to trusting states that had lavished his country with trade deals, oil contracts, and political rehabilitation after decades spent as a pariah. For all their rhetoric about supporting democracy and those struggling for democracy, in truth the only test of a government’s legitimacy in the eyes of the West is its willingness and ability to advance their economic and strategic interests.
The key lesson to emerge from the Arab Spring, in fact, has been how adept the Western powers are when it comes to adapting to shifting conditions on the ground. The notion of Washington, London, or Paris being concerned with the protection of innocent human life and upholding the human and democratic rights of the people of the Arab world should by now have been so comprehensively refuted by their actions since the end of the First World War that only those drawing their arguments from a deep well of mendacity or ignorance would dare suggest otherwise.
Libya in 2014 has descended into an abyss of lawlessness of chaos and violence as a direct consequence of NATO’s intervention back in 2011. With the recent announcement by the British Foreign Office warning all British citizens in Libya to leave the country immediately due to the ramping up of violence between the various factions that have emerged from the chaos, the truth in this regard cannot longer be denied.
Libya’s value – the real reason it came in for intervention – is of course its considerable oil reserves, the largest in Africa estimated at around 47 billion barrels’ worth. Its proximity to European markets and the quality of its oil making it easier to refine only enhances its attraction to Western oil companies.
Most of Libya’s oil deposits are located in the east of the country, where opposition against the Gaddafi regime began and was strongest. The former Libyan leader had signed oil exploration contracts with a number of Western oil companies, part of the process of him opening Libya up to the West, and prior to mounting the NATO intervention that brought his government down guarantees were given by the rebels that those contracts would continue post-Gaddafi.
Three years later the country is in complete turmoil, riven with factionalism, gang violence, and the absence of a strong central government. This is the consequence of NATO’s military intervention, yet another staged by the West that can be categorized as disastrous.
Western colonialism and imperialism has never been more exposed as they have when it comes to Libya.
A leader who could once boast of a phone book containing the numbers of world leaders and royalty, who’d opened up his country for business with Western corporations and governments, Gaddafi was left to be slaughtered like an animal by an armed mob as he tried to flee his home town of Sirte during the fighting, the motorcade he was travelling in stopped by a NATO airstrike.
The Libya that once boasted the highest level of development of any African nation, where the standard of education, housing, infrastructure, and health stood as a beacon in a region that has long labored under the depredations and ravages of free market capitalism; the Libya that helped set up the African Union and invested billions in development projects throughout the African continent, working tirelessly for African unity – this Libya has been destroyed.
President Sisi greeted King Abdullah and both leader held a meeting inside the airplane carrying the Saudi monarch. The visit is King Abdullah’s first to Cairo since the 2011 ouster of Hosni Mubarak.
King Abdullah is the first foreign leader to visit Sisi since he took office less than two weeks ago.
The Egyptian presidency said earlier on Friday that a bilateral meeting would be followed by a private discussion between the two leaders.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations showered Egypt with billions of dollars in aid after Sisi, then the army’s top general, overthrew Islamist President Mohammad Mursi amid massive protests last summer.
Shortly after President Sisi was officially declared president earlier this month, King Abdullah issued warm congratulations and called for a donor conference to help Egypt “overcome its economic difficulties.”
He urged Egyptians to disown the “strange chaos” of the Arab uprisings, saying Egypt “needs us today more than ever.”
The monarch was the only foreign leader President Sisi mentioned by name in his first speech as president, when he thanked the king for organizing the funding conference, according to Reuters.
President Sisi served as defense attaché in Riyadh during Mubarak’s rule before eventually rising to the post of head of military intelligence, his last job under Mubarak.
Saudi King Abdullah will visit Egypt on Friday for the first time since the 2011, in a show of support for newly-elected President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi,
The visit will be Abdullah’s first since the 2011
The first world leader to congratulate el-Sissi after winning last month’s election was King Abdullah,
The monarch declared that the turmoil sparked by the Arab Spring should now come to a close.
“The brotherly Egyptian people have suffered during the past period of chaos. The short-sighted called it ‘creative chaos,'” the king said in a letter published by the Saudi state news agency.
He called for a donors conference to help Egypt “get out of the tunnel,” referring to its wrecked economy.
CAIRO—Egyptian President-elect Abdel Fattah Al Sisi faces a tangle of economic challenges, but many foreign investors are already betting his arrival heralds better returns after three years of political tumult.
Foreign investment in Egyptian stocks and in private companies has picked up in recent months, buoyed by hopes that the former military chief will bring security and stability after he is inaugurated in the coming days following Tuesday’s announcement of the official vote results. Yet this confidence underscores an increasingly glaring contradiction of Egypt’s economy.
While many investors are rushing into the Arab world’s most populous nation, there are already signs that some are pulling back. That is an indication the rosy climate could turn quickly if Mr. Sisi isn’t able to tackle the government budget deficit, weak currency, a large subsidies bill, double-digit unemployment and other defects that have fed discontent.
Cairo’s main stock index has risen more than 60% since Mr. Sisi deposed Mohammed Morsi, in July 2013. That is higher than before the 2011 uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power, setting off the most volatile period in Egypt since the founding of the republic in 1953.
Another sign of reviving confidence was a $110 million IPO last month by Arabian Cement, the first listing in Egypt since 2010. It was heavily oversubscribed, bringing in $260 million of orders from Western institutional investors, said Hesham Gohar, head of investment banking at CI Capital, an Egyptian firm that helped to arrange the deal.
“These are people who are sophisticated and do the proper due diligence, and they are quite confident about the risks facing Egypt,” Mr. Gohar said.
Private foreign investors have been making further waves in post-Morsi Egypt. Saudi Arabia’s Aujan Coca-Cola KO +0.07% Beverages said in February that it would build a $100 million fruit juice factory in Egypt. Construction Products Holding, a unit of the regional construction giant Saudi Binladin, Co. paid $190 million in May to buy Sphinx Glass and its factory in Sadat City, 60 miles northwest of Cairo.
Faysal Alaquil, Construction Products’ head of business development, said the company wasn’t affected by recent political upheaval and was thinking about a long-term investment. “We see that there will be stability in terms of the political situation and the economy,” he said.
But Mr. Sisi’s ability to sustain the current tide of enthusiasm isn’t ensured. Fuel subsidies that cost the government $17 billion a year, as well as economic policies that have left millions in poverty, pose challenges.
The growth of Egyptian industry is stunted by a shortage of natural gas needed for power plants, cement plants, fertilizer producers, textile factories and other industrial players.
Meanwhile, the government has diverted natural gas and subsidized it for domestic consumption, while falling behind on payments to foreign firms for their energy products, jeopardizing future investment in the energy sector.
BG Group, BG.LN -0.37% a London-listed liquefied natural-gas firm that operates in the eastern Mediterranean, said in a recent earnings release that operations in Egypt were “increasingly at risk” because of diversions of energy to the domestic market and nonpayment by the government. Egypt owed BG Group a total of $1.4 billion at the end of the first quarter, the company said.
Overall, Egypt owes foreign energy firms $5.7 billion.
Other investors like Centamin, CELTF +3.03% a mining company listed in London and Toronto, have faced third-party lawsuits brought after the 2011 rebellion that contest Mubarak-era land grants and privatizations of state assets.
Foreign investors are hoping for some clarity from Mr. Sisi about his economic policies.
Investment thrived under Mr. Mubarak, who in the later years of his nearly three decades in power pursued market-friendly, open-door policies that boosted economic growth, if not raised living standards for most Egyptians.The presumed winner of the election as soon as he hinted at running,
Mr. Sisi never spelled out his economic agenda in detail during the campaign. He hinted in a television interview that he would carve out a larger role for the state, suggesting a break with the Mubarak era and perhaps the revival of some aspects of the socialist policies of former President Gamal Abdel Nasser, with whom Mr. Sisi is fondly compared by his supporters.
Mr. Sisi has also discussed ambitious plans to develop Upper Egypt and other impoverished areas of the country.
Foreign investors, however, are most concerned about the currency, the tax system, repatriation of profits and the new regime’s economic management—details of which still remain unclear.
A further decline in the Egyptian pound, which recently has been trading at all-time lows, would mean foreigners get less money in dollar terms when they liquidate assets in pounds.
The Finance Ministry’s plan to levy a 10% capital-gains tax on foreign stock-market investors raised more eyebrows. Cairo’s main index fell by more than 4% on Sunday, and trading was briefly suspended.
“I think if [Mr. Sisi] can solve the security issues and general unrest and bring back stability, that’s going a long way to restoring confidence,” said Ahmed Badreldin, a partner at the private-equity firm Abraaj Group, which has investments in Egypt’s health and education sectors.
“It’s a confidence game. If confidence comes back, you will see businessmen coming back and investment coming back, and you will see demand rising again.”
Celebrations are expected to follow the announcement in Tahrir Square, After the results are released Tuesday night, el-Sissi is expected to be sworn in before Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court.
The terrorist scourge must end now and the killers ought to be treated with the full force of law
A series of well-planned and coordinated bombs ripped through security posts at the entrance to Cairo University on Wednesday afternoon, killing a senior police commander and wounding dozens. The fact that these blasts were so well-coordinated shows that there is no place low or dark enough for terrorists to venture, setting one bomb off to lure in police and those offering assistance, then striking again to purposely injure and maximise terror — and set off another to repeat their dastardly plan.
Over the past three years, Egypt has been rocked by political turmoil and violence that have shaken the nation to its core, but no political philosophy or radical cause is worth the premeditated destruction of any human life. The masterminds behind these blasts are neither political activists nor are they acting to advance a cause: They are criminals who are sadly misguided and mistaken to believe that they can change the course of current events. What Egypt now needs is stability — a strong leadership that can bring the full force of the state to bear on it to deter any terrorist acts and bring such miscreants to justice.
The law is reported to amend terrorism clauses in Egypt’s penal code and stipulate harsher penalties for terrorism-related crimes.
For the new laws to come into force, they still need to be signed by interim President Adly Mansour.
Egypt’s security forces have been the target of frequent attacks since last July.
On Wednesday, a series of explosions killed three people outside Cairo University, including a police brigadier-general.
Officials said that the twin bombs went off within seconds of each other. The interior ministry said the bombs were hidden with other officials saying the devices had been concealed in a tree between two security posts.
DETAILS TO FOLLOW
The moment of the second explosion has been caught on tape.
Egyptian state television said that the double explosions happened outside Cairo University’s engineering facility during clashes between security forces and students. It described the devices as crude and homemade.
Egypt’s security forces have been the target of frequent attacks since a military backed coup toppled President Mohamed Morsi last July. Although attacks have mainly been on the restive Sinai Peninsula, they have begun to spread to major urban areas like Cairo.
Morsi’s supporters have staged regular protests against the military appointed government, which the authorities say have killed almost 500 people, most of them police and soldiers.
DETAILS TO FOLLOW
Egypt police brigadier-general Tarek El- merjawy killed in Cairo blasts
Egyptian police brigadier-general Tarek El-merjawy was killed as two blasts hit outside Cairo University on Wednesday, state television said. Four police officers were wounded in an attack on a police vehicle, Reuters reported, citing security officials
Sisi is scheduled to attend the conclusion of a joint military exercise (Zayed-1) held by the UAE and Egyptian Armed Forces. After his arrival in Abu Dhabi Sisi was met by UAE deputy army chief Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
The two men noted the “fraternal and solid relations linking the two countries and their peoples,” and their wish to “consolidate bilateral cooperation,” the WAM news agency reported, without giving details on Sisi’s plans or the length of his stay.
As a sign of support for the military-installed government in Cairo, the UAE’s Arabtec contractor signed a memorandum of understanding Sunday to develop a $40 billion project to build one million housing units in Egypt.
The signing came ahead of an expected announcement by Sisi that he will run in elections to replace Mursi, a vote he is widely expected to win.
Sisi has emerged as the most popular political figure in Egypt following Mursi’s troubled year-long rule, with many viewing him as a strong leader who can restore stability after three years of unrest unleashed by the 2011 revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak.