Monday, June 17, 2013

Red Card: Zamalek is too big for you

Off you go
It started off as a bad joke back in 2011 when the Muslim Brotherhood suggested it would field a sporting club to bring its pious practices to national sporting competition. Apparently, they were not kidding, but instead of taking on Zamalek and Ahly, they have decided to simply take them over. The bearded ones have announced that they will contest in Zamalek's upcoming board elections, risking putting Egypt's greatest club at the mercy of political zealots. 

Morsi and company have tested the country's patience with a year's worth of utter incompetence, with everything from polarizing politics and yo-yo economic declarations to televising live their spy fiction diplomacy, making stone age cultural pronouncements and appointing terrorists as governors in the country's key tourist zones. They have managed to float by thanks to an equally, if not even more, incompetent opposition, which has conspired with the Brotherhood to destroy any semblance of a functioning state. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Sewage Canal

As Egypt frets that Ethiopian hydroelectric designs may force a rethink of its asinine aspirations to flood infertile sands to grow rice and wheat to replace asphalted-over Nile river plains (and impinge upon time-honored traditions such as aimlessly watering the street), attention has shifted away from development plans for the country's other strategic waterway, the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal Corridor Project seeks to promote public-private partnerships to develop the areas adjacent to the 160 kilometer long canal. With the exception of the harbors, liquefied natural gas container facilities and some light industry in Soukna and East Port Said, the canal area is sparsely developed. Utilizing a strategic location, which is the main trading conduit between Asia and Europe and through which $1.6 trillion in global goods flow annually, for more than collecting a relatively meager $5 billion in annual tolls would seem uncontroversial. Not so in Egypt.
Wasted gifts

Setting aside the mundane reject-at-all-costs arguments to anything and everything proposed by the government, the most substantive criticism has centered on long term land leases that would be granted to private investors. The opposition has offered nothing in terms of economic alternatives to how Egypt can develop the Suez Canal area -- or anywhere else in the country, for that matter -- without private investment, for which certainty of property rights is a must. Instead, sewer-politics has dominated, with stump speeches recklessly appealing to the country's toxic mix of xenophobic paranoia and delusive socialist dreams. 

Neatly summing up the opposition's incapacity on both the Nile and Suez Canal, one of its leading lights, hot-heated Hamdin Sabahi, has a be-damned proposal to block passage along the Suez Canal to all countries with contractors working on the Ethiopia project.  This would ensure that Egypt becomes an international pariah, and a poorer and drier one at that. Meanwhile, Morsi and his brethren have decided to shift focus entirely and sow the seeds of inter-religious strife in Syria, a conflict in which Egypt has no business in, let alone capacity for, injecting itself.