It’s the (Egyptian) economy, stupid

Without economic stabilization, a new and improved Egyptian democracy will collapse just like the old one did

July 8, 2013 14:44
Anti-Morsi protesters celebrate in Alexandria, June 7, 2013.

Anti-Morsi protesters in Alexandria 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Louafi Larbi)

There’s nothing Israel can do about the fragile situation in Egypt except beef up its forces in the south and be prepared to contain any spillover violence. But since it has no interest in yet another failed state on its borders, there’s something very important it should be urging its Western allies to do: worry less about a new constitution and inclusive democratic processes and more about urgently reviving Egypt’s economy. For without economic improvement, the best constitution in the world won’t be able to stabilize the country.

To understand why, it’s first important to understand what last week’s popular revolution-cum-coup was really about. It wasn’t an uprising by would-be liberal democrats infuriated at the Muslim Brotherhood’s authoritarian, anti-democratic behavior in power: Though this behavior undoubtedly angered many Egyptians and played a role in driving them into the streets last week, for many, it was a secondary motive. Nor was this a coup by anti-democratic forces seeking to gain by force what they couldn’t gain at the ballot box, though this motive, too, surely animated some of the estimated 14 million demonstrators. But for most, the motive was something much simpler: economic desperation.


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