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Egypt digs itself back to 1977 - Daily News Egypt

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Egypt digs itself back to 1977

Ahmed Kamal, a medical student, was arrested by police and delivered to his family the following day via the mortuary. Ahmed had been sentenced to two years in absentia and only recently arrested and killed by Egyptian police, possibly tortured to death. Sometime in the past this may have been breaking news, causing outrage in …

Ahmed Kamal, a medical student, was arrested by police and delivered to his family the following day via the mortuary. Ahmed had been sentenced to two years in absentia and only recently arrested and killed by Egyptian police, possibly tortured to death. Sometime in the past this may have been breaking news, causing outrage in Egyptian society, and perhaps even internationally. But in today’s Egypt, this is a repeated story, predictable in every way.

The state will cover up for its security apparatus, and as its ridiculous story is exposed, details may shift slightly until the whole ordeal is forgotten. If Giulio Regeni’s murder did not bring about any accountability for the Egyptian regime or its security bodies, it is highly unlikely that Ahmed Kamal’s murder will result in any better.

Security bodies will deny wrongdoing; forensics may end up fabricating a report like they did in the case of Khaled Said. Regime apologists at best will ask people to wait for meaningless investigations by the state. Even if the forensics report doesn’t appease state institutions and the evidence is found to be compelling, then arrests may be made, but only to silence public pressure. These arrests will not result in a condemning verdict, and if they do it will be repealed quickly.

The murder of Ahmed Kamal and the story that follows is not an isolated incident; it reflects the workings of a brutal regime whose institutions are complicit in crimes against Egyptians and works in perfect harmony to provide impunity to its members. This state of complicity and criminality is hard to digest even when witnessing it. Yet time and time again the regime has consistently proven that this systemic injustice is its modus operandi.

Police brutality is the government’s chosen means of looking out for its interests and enforcing policy. While political protests bore the brunt of re-establishing these means, the same will be applied to enforce harsh economic policies advocated for by Egypt’s ‘allies’.

An implicit agreement between the Egyptian government and the people was negotiated over the past six years, following the murder of Khaled Said whereby police brutality and government impunity became more or less accepted. Yet, even with the carte blanche provided by the regime’s supporters to use excessive violence, dire economic conditions may breech that agreement. Egyptians are angered by their struggle with the prices of basic goods, medicine, and cost of living.

Despite this anger, the people do not have the power, or perhaps the will, to attempt to change the regime or depose President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Any such attempt may start a new wave of harsher economic conditions that the people are not ready to handle. The people have willfully given up their right to protest this regime. Many feel compelled to live with the consequences having deprived themselves of influence. But can we call the inability to remove Al-Sisi or influence his regime’s policies ‘stability’?

Egypt needs reforms in order to address its ailing economy, but these reforms need to be political rather than strictly by the numbers. It’s disingenuous and far removed from reality to claim that a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an answer to Egypt’s ailing economy. The incessant advocacy to impose IMF conditions, such as the value-added tax or lifting of subsidies, is far too reminiscent of the 1977 bread riots. Likewise, back then, subsidies were lifted causing a large wave of protests that left 79 dead and 566 injured. These austerity measures were taken without regard for the political backlash or the context which made these measures back-breaking to the average Egyptian.

Besides, the government is underperforming in most sectors, exhibiting even more incompetence than under Hosni Mubarak. No matter what the plan is, it is unlikely it can be executed efficiently, with the farfetched assumption these are the reforms Egypt needs.

What hope is there for a country whose economy is systemically worsened by pouring state money into a military economy that neither pays taxes nor contributes back to the state budget? How can any tax reforms be sustainable while the military continues to take money out of the economic cycle? What mechanisms or possible oversight could there be for a regime that has ignored its own laws as well as international treaties to further its own political and economic agenda?

Can any loan or condition stop the military from manipulating the market and muscling out competition to push forward its own products and services? What is there to address policies that favour the army’s air conditioning units, bottled water, and food products that cripple civilian competition? Can any condition be imposed to change the contracts that are being delivered directly to the army and revenue not being pumped back into the economy through taxes and parliamentary oversight?

For many in the Egyptian government, corruption is a way of life they’re not willing to give up. Economists advocating loan conditions fail to address these pressing issues that are key to Egypt’s structural economic problems. The present debate sidesteps some of the most important factors that are negatively influencing the economy. Some of these factors include political repression, lack of judiciary reforms, the police state, and military economic interests driving policy.

Ahmed Kamal is a recurring story, symptomatic of a security state that has turned criminal, motivated by narrow economic interests that favour an economic elite over the Egyptian populace. Ahmed won’t show up in the numbers punched up by experts, nor will the nonsensical story provided by the government be questioned.

The present regime has alienated numerous factions of society: doctors, lawyers, journalists, students, youth, businessmen, and even some civil servants. Meanwhile, Egypt holds its own future hostage. Youth are threatened constantly and barred from decision-making circles. Many are detained in jail, tortured or placed under solitary confinement without fair judicial process, and some, like Ahmed, are killed in police custody.

Egypt’s problems will not be solved by applying cosmetic reforms, they will only entrench Egypt deeper down an abyss, like a car stuck in the sand digging itself deeper when the accelerator is pushed hard. Further austerity, which comes hand in hand with state violence and repression, may cause the eruption of an already simmering street. What’s more, even if understated, Egypt cannot move forward as long as stories like Giulio Regeni and Ahmed Kamal and countless others persist. It will take real change and the unchaining of Egypt’s youth—its future—to dig it out of this hole that’s growing deeper by the minute.


Wael Eskandar is an independent journalist and blogger based in Cairo. He is a frequent commentator on Egyptian politics and has written for Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Counterpunch, and Jadaliyya, among others. He blogs at notesfromtheunderground.net

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  • Reform

    The next revolution is just around the corner – First of all I hope Wael Eskandar is not your real name or you are not really based in Cairo, otherwise may God be with you. What an honest, smart, and moving article.

    There is light at the end of the tunnel; it took police brutality and government corruption to ignite Jan 25th revolution, even when the economy was not as bankrupt as it is today. Egyptian youth have been jailed, tortured, and murdered before during the Mubarak thugs but their parents were able to survive economically. Now with Sissi’s thugs it is a much worse story, not only police dogs are more brutal and state officials are more corrupt, but also the economy is depleted and the people can’t afford food or medicine; sadly they have less to lose this time around; the writing’s on the wall. Hopefully this time Egyptian youth would have learned the lesson and don’t give up their country to the radical Brotherhood or the army Thugshood!!

    • Tony

      Yes! The new revolution is coming against scum bags like the moron who wrote that bullshet and cheerleaders like you who are fishing in murky waters. What proof the writer has to assume that the police did that? The guy jumped out of a balcony when the police knocked at the door, because he was a pussy and can’t accept responsibility for what he was doing. Also a girl (hooker) jumped from another window, and three hookers, and another John, were arrested. It was a brothel!! He was ashamed because as a medical student and member of the terrorist group, he should have been a better person, but he was not. Just like Khaled Said was a drug addict who was made to be a hero.

      Of course, like many idiots writing about the economy in Egypt, and criticizing the government, the writer has NO CLUE about the economy, starting a business, competing in the market, or the monopoly practiced by few businessmen in Egypt. Just getting paid to write within a context and an outline that are prepared for him in advance, and you, J25, with your perfect English, and the framing of your comment, I think I have an idea of who you are framing that BS for. Kos Omak.

      • Reform

        You started your argument with what appears as a misguided police state Kool-Aid, but it could have been forgiven as many in this dictatorship are brain-washed. however ending it up with profanity and personal insults doesn’t make your argument any stronger, just a little man who is scared of what’s coming. By the way, my ’employer’ knows who you are from your IP address 🙂

  • Teamsecure Alpha Group

    Sheeps ! Wake the f*** up?
    I don’t know what is wrong with you? Before sissi was elected, the whole world warned you about him. But egyptian habits screamed that the whole world is against egypt.
    Well, deal with it then! Don’t whine and complain! Do something or shut up!

  • Essam Ghareeb

    What a whole lot of b*** sh*t
    How can you call yourself a journalist while making assumptions and drawing a picture of what lurks in your sick mind. Where is the the real story and the other side’s opinion? How come you live in Egypt and not arrested or tortured? Except that you are coward and don’t have the coconuts to tell the truth about yourself and trying to rise the youth in Egypt to carry on your’s, and who pays you, what you have wet dreams about.
    You sound like you’re working for someone who wants to take a hold on power in Egypt and not someone who’s trying to constructively improve or build a better country.
    Keep dreaming !!!

    • Reform

      Making assumptions?? attacking a brave journalist who’s risking his life to expose a corrupt police state is not new in Sissi’s Egypt; many Egyptian journalists are still in jail. You sound like an educated person, so do YOU believe that force disappearances, arrests, and torture do not exist? or you believe that each of them is an ‘isolated incident’? Or perhaps you are a state operative who promotes the lie that every vocal journalist is there to serve the MB, even a Christian journalist !!!

      • Essam Ghareeb

        A half-wit person can see through this clearly. If what we call our “educated journalists” write this rubbish so, God help the rest of the population and the country. What’s worse is that people like you hail them.
        Ask yourself: did I put forward to anybody a constructive criticism? an idea? lying and exaggerating is not a clever but, a stupid way of expressing oneself. That’s if you’re honest and don’t work for somebody, who could be paying you handsomely.
        Anyway ,body, I don’t work for the Egyptian government and you can’t imagine how many times I constructively attacked them, but with my name revealed, fully, and my e mail, not like you and your friend the ? journalist?

        • whatever

          Essam Gharib – the bullshit argument of “make constructive criticism” remains bullshit. This is a regime where constructive criticism like “where are the peer reviews for the kofta device” is met with an army general saying “we don’t care about that”. Forced disappearances happen, torture happens, falsifying forensic reports happens. EVERY SINGLE DAY. How about “stop doing this” as constructive criticism? So without further to say: kossommak yabny, battalo ta3rees ba2a.

          • Tony

            Kos Okhtak ya ibn ala7ba.

        • Reform

          What the journalist wrote is not rubbish or BS, it’s the truth. Everyone knows there are numerous arrests, tortures, and murders by the police state. One doesn’t need to be paid by foreign entities to admit that. One doesn’t have to be blind in supporting a regime either (any regime) without asking the right questions. As to ‘constructive input’ we all warned Sisi’s regime from propagating political exclusion and economic army monopoly otherwise the consequences would be dire for Egypt, who listened? where are they now? divided, bankrupt, backward, and declining further into the abyss !!

          • Georges

            The author, yourself and others of your ilk have done your very best since 2011 to do all you can to destroy the country. And you have the gall to complain based on the lies you constantly make up.
            Damn you.

      • Tony

        He is not brave and he is not risking anything. He is sitting in Cairo, no one has bothered him even though he makes up lots of BS. You are so obvious, your bull is not selling anymore. Try to figure out another angle.

  • Opposing Human Rights = Terror

    I wonder whether the trolls will come here, as they have been wont to do in the past. Normally they become alarmed at the vicious truth of their mortal deity being exposed. Their response is always to whine, complain, and slander commentators while ignoring facts presented in articles. When they don’t like what they here, they just pretend it does not exist or never happened. Even if something is proven to be as plain as day, they will still reject it, if it shows their lord’s foibles and failings. Anyone who tries to justify what happened to Malek Adly is either a terrorist, an idiot, or some combination of the two.

  • ISIS is an Arab Dictatorship

    Arab dictatorships share much of the same fundamental mentality as ISIS. Both are obedience-based cults that shun logic an reason. Both degrade and hate women. Both promote sectarian animosities. Both support terrorists and engage in state terrorism. Both try to destabilize their respective neighborhoods. Both deploy their twisted goons to defend torture. Both use rape as a tool of terror. Both are constantly at war. Both blame their enormous failures on dissidents and external forces. Both have simple minded followers/believers that resemble Mao Zedong’s Red Guards. Both are misanthropic and owe their victims apologies.

  • Minymina

    Hahaha. J25 is making multiple profiles to back up his lies and BS. Pathetic.

  • Minymina

    BS article by a sad excuse of an author who hides behind his keyboard.

    You’re entire article is based solely on conspiracy theories and lies. You have absolutely no evidence to suggest what you claimed to have happened and it’s just sad. Its sad that you are pathetic enough to resort to this because your failing newspaper needs the clicks.

    You claim we are living in a North korean style “dictatorship”. That you can be killed at any time and that the government is brutal and corrupt. Yet here you are writing a new article everyday about it without so much as a word from the government. If your stupid fantasy was a reality you would be jailed by now but yet here you are.

    Continue writing your garbage. Continue defending terrorists and criminals. Continue pushing a narrative that’s not supported by facts or evidence. I, along with the five other people who visit your failed site are using adblock so don’t expect to get any revenue from me or them.

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