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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Egypt's Collapse May Be Inevitable

A couple days ago, the Egyptian defense minister, General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, warned of a possible collapse of the state due to the political turmoil. (See also here).

David Goldman (aka "Spengler") has posted a rebuttal to certain attacks against him and analysis of the situation in Egypt. What is important to note, though, is in his opinion it is inevitable that Egypt will collapse into a failed state. Goldman writes:
I believe that the foreign policy establishment (including Dr. Cook) is engaged in a hapless and counterproductive effort to save the unsalvageable. That is my assessment as a specialist in country risk with thirty years’ experience, including a stint as Bank of America’s global head of bond research. I never wrote that an Egyptian collapse was desirable, only that it was inevitable. I might be wrong, but this week’s events in Egypt surely do not make me look wrong.

Dr. Cook refers specifically to my Jan. 22 essay, “Denial still is a river in Egypt,” in which I argue that Egypt’s economic collapse has made the largest Arab state ungovernable. He denounces as “a-historic revisionism” my “claim that economic collapse was the reason for the uprising.” Revisionism? I have been arguing since February 2011 that the global spike in food prices undermined Egypt, which imports half its food. I wrote back then:
Even Islamists have to eat. It is unclear whether President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt will survive, or whether his nationalist regime will be replaced by an Islamist, democratic, or authoritarian state. What is certain is that it will be a failed state. Amid the speculation about the shape of Arab politics to come, a handful of observers, for example economist Nourel Roubini, have pointed to the obvious: Wheat prices have almost doubled in the past year.
Since then I have chronicled the unfolding economic and political breakdown in Egypt in more than two dozen essays.
... In fact, I wrote just the opposite, namely that Egypt would become a failed state whether or not Mubarak hung on ....

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