Plagued by political unrest, widespread corruption, alarming rates of poverty, high unemployment rates, injustice and years of oppression under previous political leaders; Egypt now faces a dark period of turmoil. To understand the current situation of Egypt, a knowledge is required of the last few years of its history.
Hosni Mubarak, had succeeded his predecessor, Anwar Sadat after his assassination in 1981 and ruled in Egypt for 30 years.1 He implemented a state of emergency laws to counter the militants and expand his own police power.1 Mubarak leadership was autocratic, holding the majority of the seats in parliament, essentially making him pass any law/policy he saw fit.1 Despite media portraying Mubarak as an evil dictator, it wasn’t all bad as during his time of rule he developed; utilities, telecommunications, educational and industrial infrastructure.2 Unfortunately this was offset against high population growth rates, deficient administration of public services and rampart corruption at various levels of government.2 The Egyptians resentment grew and manifested as riots, especially after 2005 where the first multi-candidate presidential election. The election was seen by the public as rigged through allegations of intimidation and fraud as Mubarak, who was hated by the people at this time, won the election.2 Hundreds of riots took place and Mubarak tried desperately to keep his country under control. Over time, his regime relied on
– Containment – Economic development and investment program to help middle-class Egyptians
– Coercion – Suppression of potential threats/challenges through brutality, strict controls and torture
– Confrontation – Crushing new political initiatives from Egypt
Eventually, the riots became increasingly larger until 25th January 2011 where thousands of protestors clashed with police in Cairo in which Mubarak finally stepped down.1, 2 The military took over this transition period until the next president was decided upon.
The first free democratic election was held in Egypt and elected Mohamed Morsi on July 1 2012.3 He was a supporter of the Muslim brotherhood which was suppressed during Mubarak’s rule.3 Starting off in democracy, he slowly shifted into an autocratic leadership like Mubarak.3, 4 The Egyptian people were deeply dissatisfied with Morsi’s rule and rioted once again. The true problems of Egypt never being addressed which were the widespread corruption, high unemployment rates, extreme poverty and inequity to resources.4 Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the military on July 3 2013 with public support.3
So how does the tumultuous politics play on the Egyptian people? Allow the 12 year old Egyptian boy to summarise in the video below.
The instability in the government has been strongly linked with increased unemployment, evident in figure 1 below.5
As you can see, the unemployment has risen sharply since 2011 where Mubarak was deposed and has steadily increased since. This unemployment in turn corresponds with the decrease in tourism during these political changeovers as seen below in figure 2.6
As a result, at least 25% of the population in Egypt is below the poverty line.7, 8 On top of this any funding from international supporters usually pour down ‘corruption channels’ rather than targeting the people who needs it.8
It’s not all bad news though, there have been significant improvements to the healthcare system from the 1960s resembling that of more developed countries.9 Some of the initiatives included compulsory vaccinations which eradicated Poliomyelitis.9 However there are still some issues to be grinded out, the major one being the lack of community communication, participation and debate about the proposed laws.10 Post-revolution Egyptians want to be more involved in their policies and healthcare is a huge area of interest.10
Post-revolution Egypt now faces an extremely difficult period where all Egyptians must battle against suffering, poverty, injustice, unemployment, corruption. The inequitable distribution of power, money and resources has all been experienced firsthand by the Egyptian people. The nation faces a critical period and must overcome this struggle against greed and corruption to progress as a country.
1. Theguardian. Hosni Mubarak’s rule and downfall – timeline 2012 [cited 2014 29 March]. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jun/02/hosni-mubarak-rule-downfall-timeline.
2. Osman T. The Fall of Hosni Mubarak 2014 [cited 2014 28 March]. Available from: http://www.aucegypt.edu/gapp/cairoreview/pages/articleDetails.aspx?aid=233.
3. Ozdemir C, Haddad M. Timeline: Morsi’s rule over Egypt 2013 [cited 2014 29 March]. Available from: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2013/07/20137493141105596.html.
4. Johnson S. Who Is Mohamed Morsi, and What Did His Presidency Mean for Egypt’s Future? 2014 [cited 2014 28 March]. Available from: http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/01/22/who-mohamed-morsi-and-why-you-should-care.
5. Economics T. Egypt Unemployment Rate 2014 [cited 2014 28 March]. Available from: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/egypt/unemployment-rate.
6. Clark M. Egypt’s Tourism Revenues Dropped With ‘Second Revolution,’ GDP Could Take Major Hit 2013 [cited 2014 30 March]. Available from: http://www.ibtimes.com/egypts-tourism-revenues-dropped-second-revolution-gdp-could-take-major-hit-1420626.
7. Online A. Egypt’s poverty rate rises to 26% in 2012/13: CAPMAS 2013 [cited 2014 28 March]. Available from: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/3/12/87776/Business/Economy/Egypts-poverty-rate-rises-to–in–CAPMAS.aspx.
8. Taha RM. Egyptian NGOs send report on socio-economic conditions to UN 2013 [cited 2013 27 March]. Available from: http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/10/09/egyptian-ngos-send-report-on-socio-economic-conditions-to-un/.
9. Shoukry S. Egypt’s Health Care System 2013 [cited 2014 27 March]. Available from: http://www.ghdnews.com/index.php/global-health-partnerships-and-solutions/profiles/43-egypts-health-care-system.
10. Shamseya. Egypt’s Healthcare Overview 2014 [cited 2014 27 March]. Available from: http://shamseya.org/?page_id=50.