Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Obama's Egyptian Follies

Four years ago Obama went to Cairo to give a speech that he hoped would begin a new relationship between America and the Muslim world.  In the first paragraph he tells the audience “Assalaamu alaykum”, peace be upon you.  Two years later a shocked Israel would see Obama, in the words of columnist Aviad Pohoryles of the daily Maariv, put “A Bullet in the Back” of longtime ally Hosni Mubarak.  Israelis accused Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of pursuing a naive and narrow minded diplomacy without any regard to the dangers to the rest of the Middle East.  Apparently they were right.

I’m not sure what they thought the outcome would be but most people with any knowledge of the region figured radical Islamists would fill the vacuum.  The Muslim Brotherhood jumped in with both feet, put one of theirs in the Presidency, and wrote a theocratic constitution.  Since then Egypt has had anything but the peace Obama hoped to inspire.  Just as in Libya Egypt is on a downward spiral into anarchy because a clueless administration pursued rainbows and unicorns.  Since Mubarak’s ouster tourism, once 11.3% of GDP, has declined 40%.  Inflation is at 8.2% and is expected to hit double digits this summer.  Hardest hit are food prices because Egypt relies mainly on food imports and therefore prices are dependent on the exchange rate.  Despite spending half of its dollar reserves to prop up its currency the Egyptian pound has lost a third of its value.  Economic growth has gone from 5.1% under Mubarak to 1.8%.  Egypt's bond rating has been lowered to 'junk' or 'near-junk' status.  Coptic Christians are being persecuted and many are leaving.  This exodus of what are mainly middle class professionals is further exasperating an already dismal economic situation.

Assalaamu alaykum.

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