Friday, September 14

Real reason Egypt's prez finally made a show of rebuking rioters

Someone from the IMF smashed a raw egg onto a table in front of him then said, 'Have a nice day.'

Don't believe me, huh? Read on, and make sure you read all the way to the bitter end of this Reuters report:
UPDATE 1-EU pledges up to 700 million euros in aid to Egypt

Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:51pm IST

* Pledge coincides with Islamist president's first Europe trip
* EU funds conditional on IMF deal for Egypt
* Mursi reassures West after attacks on U.S. embassy

By Sebastian Moffett and Justyna Pawlak

BRUSSELS, Sept 13 (Reuters) - The European Union offered Egypt economic aid of up to 700 million euros ($902 million) on Thursday, showing how European governments are trying to build ties with the Islamist rulers brought to power in Egypt's first free elections.

The pledge came as Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi [more commonly spelled Morsi] made his first trip to Europe since his election in June, hoping to reassure the EU of his democratic credentials and win economic aid as he looks to revive the broken economy.

He rose to power under the Muslim Brotherhood, which is opposed to Israel and with which Washington only opened formal relations last year. Mursi said on Thursday he backed peaceful protest but not attacks on embassies after Egyptians angry at a film deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammad climbed into the U.S. embassy in Cairo and tore down the American flag.

Europe wants to keep Egypt as a firm ally of the West after the collapse of Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian rule last year, and hopes Cairo can turn into an example in a region that has seen tumultuous change since the Arab Spring began in 2011.

"Egypt is a key country in a region that is so close to and important for Europe," said Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, which represents EU governments. "Egypt's success would have positive repercussions on the region as a whole."

Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, said the EU had offered Egypt macro-economic aid of 500 million euros - conditional on Egypt reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on financial assistance - as well as between 150 and 200 million euros to fund an agreed economic recovery plan.

These pledges come on top of 449 million euros the EU has already made available to Egypt for the period 2011-2013 to support programmes such as vocational training for young people.

The EU has ambitious plans to guide North Africa - which the bloc calls its "southern neighbourhood" - towards deeper democracy after the Arab Spring, and EU officials say they want to make clear links between aid and democratic reforms.

The talks in Brussels included questions about a new democratic constitution for Egypt, on which talks have stalled over the role of Islam in law.

"The political context of this visit is very important," a senior EU official said on Wednesday. "Egypt is now debating its future constitution which will be key for the country ... and we hope a reference for the rest of the Arab countries."


The EU is Egypt's biggest trading partner, with figures for 2010 showing trade nearly four times more valuable than with the United States, Cairo's second biggest partner.

But the bloc faces competition for influence. Mursi's first trip outside the Arab region and Africa since his election was to Beijing, Egypt's third-largest trading partner. The United States has bankrolled Egypt's military for decades, giving Washington particular leverage.

So far, the U.S. approach to Mursi's Islamist government has been cautious. Asked on television on Wednesday whether Egypt was still an ally of the United States, President Barack Obama said it was neither an ally nor an enemy. Under Mubarak, the United States usually described Egypt as a strategic ally.

The EU leaders, by contrast, were unequivocal.

Barroso said he was "extremely pleased with the reassurances given today by President Mursi regarding Egypt's unwavering commitment to democracy and the rule of law".

Van Rompuy told Mursi the EU will stand by the side of the Egyptian people, "as a friend, a neighbour and a partner".

Financial assistance is a critical need for Mursi's fledgling government. Last year's revolution damaged tourism revenues and foreign investment. The country is still trying to rebuild unity as well as its shattered economy.

Egypt has already requested a $4.8 billion loan from the IMF in the hope of a deal by the end of year, and has asked for 500 million euros ($644 million) of aid from the European Commission, the EU executive.

But its needs may be far greater. A senior EU official said on Wednesday that it may need financing of more than $10 billion to shore up the state budget and rebuild investor confidence after 18 months of political turmoil.
Now here quick-thinking Pundita readers might ask whether the egg smashing routine would also work with Pakistan's generals. Why, yes. But you know how it is when you stumble across a gang of thieves and say, 'Watch out! There are thieves in the neighborhood!'

The Pentagon, NATO, EU, White House, State -- all of them -- they already know how to deal with Pakistan's rulers and without firing a shot. As to why they don't act on what they know, because the Suez Canal doesn't cut rhough Afghanistan.

As to whether anyone from the European Commission would ever smash a raw egg in front of Morsi to make a point, that would depend on whether he's foolish enough to repeat Muammar Gaddafi's mistake. But having seen what happened after Gaddafi threatened to flood Europe with refugees, I doubt Morsi will ever decide to sign his death warrant with his tongue.


Madhu said...

Okay, I can't remember if I commented on this post or the last one, but 10,000 in Dhaka? Okay, it is growing, but this is completely being fueled. There are big protests there for other things, but not covered in the Western media if it doesn't have anything explicitly to do with us.

I trust no one in the Western media or Western foreign policy community on any of this. I have lost all respect for the entire lot after the past decade, all sides. All sides.

Madhu said...

Okay, enough with my nonsensical comments.

I am not so turned around that none of what I'm saying is making sense.

But the initial--I hate to say it, mainstream-- reporting and punditry has been so awful!

What a mess. Time to take one of my breaks from all of this!