Watching France24 and wandering around their web site, there was this story about Egypt:
Signs of dissent, desperation amid food shortages and rising prices in Egypt
Latest update : 2016-10-16
Despite a widespread government crackdown on dissent, some Egyptians are resorting to drastic measures to express their desperation over the food shortages and double-digit inflation that have made many of life’s necessities hard to come by.
Nearly six years ago, a frustrated and destitute Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself ablaze, sparking a series of popular revolts across the region now collectively known as the Arab Spring.
Following on the heels of Tunisians, Egyptians took to the street in January 2011 and succeeded in overthrowing President Hosni Mubarak, the repressive military dictator who ruled the country for almost 30 years. But whereas Tunisians managed to build a functioning, if flawed, democracy in the aftermath of their revolt, Egyptians today find themselves under an even more repressive military regime coupled with dwindling food supplies and skyrocketing prices. The price of rice has gone up by 48 percent over the past year while the cost of cooking oil – which is increasingly hard to find – has gone up 32 percent.
And despite a draconian clampdown on dissent, Egyptians are increasingly expressing their desperation.
On Saturday, a 30-year-old taxi driver named Ashraf Mohammed Shaheen self-immolated in front of an army centre in Alexandria. According to press reports citing witnesses, he criticised the government and rising prices before dousing himself in gasoline and setting himself alight. He suffered burns on 95 percent of his body and was rushed to a nearby hospital. News of the incident spread quickly on social media under the Arabic hashtag #Bouazizi_Egypt, a reference to the Tunisian vendor who took similarly desperate measures nearly six years earlier.
Gee… haven’t we seen this movie a few times already? Has nothing been gained for all the suffering and strife of the first couple of turns on the wheel?
Shaheen’s desperate act followed an interview with a tuktuk driver that went viral this week after he spoke for much of the country in expressing his rage over the dire economic situation. The unidentified driver slams the government for spending millions of dollars on lavish ceremonies and mega-projects while ordinary people suffer.
“Before the latest presidential elections [in 2014] we had enough sugar, enough rice, and we even used to export it. So what happened? Where did the sugar go?” he demands. “They waste our money and spend it on so-called national projects, which are useless, and education in Egypt is very bad, even worse than you can ever imagine.”
“This country will rise if there is enough care for education, health and agriculture to provide us with food,” he says.
The interview was aired on the private, pro-government Al Hayat television channel on Wednesday evening and immediately went viral, hitting 6 million views on the channel’s official Facebook page in less than a day, according to Al-Ahram newspaper.
Al-Hayat quickly pulled the video, but by then it had been uploaded elsewhere. On another Facebook page the video racked up 2.2 million views by Thursday night, according to the Associated Press. By Sunday that number had risen to 4.4 million, with the video being shared more than 230,000 times.
They have that video in the original article and it is well worth clicking over and watching it. A regular ‘man in the street’ who drives a tuktuk – one of those almost miniature truck / car with a motorcycle sized engine in it and maybe a top sometimes…
The host of the show that aired the footage has since left for what the network is calling a three-week “personal vacation”, according to Egyptian media reports.
I guess he wanted more “time with the family”…
Rachel Scheier, editor-in-chief of Business Today, an English-language monthly magazine based in Cairo, told FRANCE 24 that the tuktuk driver merely echoed what she has been hearing on the streets. “People in Egypt have been getting steadily poorer since the revolution, and in the meantime prices have gone crazy,” she said.
“After Morsi was removed there was a feeling of goodwill and hope,” Scheier said. “But six months ago there was a palpable shift … All the government does is talk about these mega-projects; meanwhile, people can’t find enough sugar or cooking oil. You can’t buy basic foods at a reasonable price anymore.”
Gee… isn’t something just about like that happening in Venezuela?
And isn’t Europe headed that way, though more slowly and more ‘patchy’, with nations like Greece and Cyprus in the lead, France and Germany catching up more slowly…
Maybe it’s time to reconsider that whole “Government Knows Best” and “Socialism, that’s the ticket, this time for sure!”
If printing money and zero interest rates were able to fix anything, Europe would be thriving, Egypt would be a paradise, and Japan would be rolling in 12% growth.
They aren’t, so it isn’t.
Calls for protest on November 11
Over the weekend another video surfaced on social media sites of a woman blaming the army for the rise in food prices – a brave move in a country where even the slightest hint of criticism of the ruling regime can land one in prison.
“What does it mean that the army says it will subsidise red meat?” She demands. “Why does the army control electricity? Why do they control gas? Why do they control the sewers?”
A Facebook page called Revolution of the Poor has been calling for mass protests on November 11, but it remains to be seen if such demonstrations can go forward in the current climate of repression.
Remember that the Army in Egypt has been considered a guarantor of the people when governments get too draconian… and here we have people getting fed up with them, too. If Central Authority could make economies run just dandy, Egypt would be thriving, since little is more Central nor more Authority than Military Control.
“On the one hand, people are angry and there’s palpable discontent,” Scheier said. “On the other hand, I don’t think anybody thinks the military government is going to allow this protest to actually go anywhere.”
And the public simply may not have the stomach for another popular uprising.
“Things can change quickly in Egypt – so perhaps November 11 will surprise us all. But as of yet, it doesn’t seem like there is a lot of momentum behind them,” Hellyer said. “I think that is testimony not to the idea that the population is not hurting – it is hurting via the economic pressures – but that the space for political organisation has shrunk, and that the population is less inclined to go down the route of mass protests anyway after the tumultuous period of the last five years.”
So let’s see, we have an 11/11/2016 protest scheduled, Egypt about to erupt again, rampant inflation and a collapsing economy. In Venezuela we’ve had similar protests, rampant inflation, and a collapsing economy. Care to place bets on their collapse, what with oil prices staying low, Saudi pumping a lot, and their main customers not interested in buying as much?
Then the Russian Fleet is steaming across the Mediterranean toward Syria. They already have advanced air defenses in place and are busy helping Assad retake his country, while ignoring the USA and NATO, and while cutting deals with Turkey (who has expressed interest in their former Ottoman Turkish Empire parts of The Levant…)
Oh, and don’t forget Saudi Arabia borrowing, what was it, $17 Billion? to fund a nice little religious war in Yemen against the Shia, while Iran has $150 Billion new from the USA to buy toys to support the other side, and put their ships off the coast of Yemen in the grill of the US Navy.
During all this, Obama is playing golf and campaigning for Hillary; while the Trump & Hillary show is more interested in sex stories and email demonstrating corruption for a price with $White $House $Favors $For $Sale $Soon! from Hillary and Trump interested in USA Economic Navel Gazing…
I’d go pour a glass of wine but the box ran dry yesterday… It’s been a hard week in the International News Flow.
IMHO, it will be a miracle if we don’t have a hot war with the destruction of a few more nations on a front running from Tunisia through Libya and Egypt, Gaza, and on to Turkey through Syria, Iraq, and Iran by Proxy; and with the USA and Russia taking hits and trying NOT to shoot down more than a couple of each others planes.
Frankly, it all is starting to remind me of W.W.I and the only thing I can’t figure out is who is Archduke Ferdinand this time…