Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1375, (4-10 January 2018)
Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Issue 1375, (4-10 January 2018)

Ahram Weekly

In-Focus: Agenda 2018

Egyptians are glad to see the back of 2017, and have hopes that 2018 sees some light emerge to mark the coming of the end of their tribulations, writes Galal Nassar

اقرأ باللغة العربية

Everyday on social media, Egyptians were praying for 2017 to end and take with it a long year of difficult and harsh realities for all social class, Muslims and Christians, because of the open war with terrorism in the east and west, inside cities and on the borders. Attacks have targeted worshippers in mosques and churches, as well state institutions, army and police personnel in a futile attempt to unglue the unity of the people and destroy the morale of military and security forces, so they collapse like in neighbouring countries that experienced what is known as the Arab Spring.

It was a spring led by political Islamic currents from the Gulf to the Atlantic that attempted to take advantage of a historic moment when the people rose up against poverty, oppression, lack of justice and development. When these currents failed to take control of the cornerstones of the region, they made a deal with the devil and anyone that would fund them and support them politically and logistically to take revenge on the people. They destroyed, sabotaged and displaced populations within borders or forced them to flee on illegal refugee boats that might sail or sink on the way to foreign shores. The lucky ones are in refugee camps awaiting daily handouts, like the people of Syria. Those who were forced to remain inside their countries, faced combat, terrorist attacks and assassinations and have been afflicted by disease and epidemics, like the people of Yemen. Others live in countries that are divided into east and east, separate governments, parliaments, militias and tribes, destroying all state sovereignty and fuelled by blind ambition until citizens have become strangers in their own land, poor after wealth and prosperity, like the people of Libya.

In this chaotic scene, Egypt continued its battle alone without support or assistance in its war on terrorism, except for help from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Enemies ganged up against it from among brethren such as Qatar and Sudan, and others in the region who crave a role and influence, such as Iran, Turkey and Israel. The terrorists target the state’s economic resources to tighten the noose around the necks of the people and the regime, dealing a blow to tourism and expatriate remittances. They targeted power and water plants at the beginning of their subversion and in parallel focused on instigating sectarian strife by attacking Egypt’s Copts in their churches, homes, gatherings and transportation.

On top of that, the brunt of floating the Egyptian pound and the economic reform programme was felt by all segments in society, increasing their suffering and triggering many aftershocks. This included the collapse of the middle class, growing resentment despite efforts to push back these circumstances in the hope of a better future. Egyptians understand the causes of suffering from terrorism to the economy, and are hopeful they will reap the fruit of their suffering and that these burdens will not last long. They anticipate that the sacrifice in lives and other aspects will be rewarded on all fronts, including independent national policy and sovereignty, uprooting terrorism, lifting economic hardships and tangible improvement in living standards and services.

Egyptians believe 2018 will end all suffering, when they will reap the rewards and promises of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, including promising to complete all mega projects he launched before the end of his first term in June. The people are waiting for presidential elections that most believe will easily be won by Al-Sisi if he decides to run for a second term, since there are no strong contenders supported by real political forces inside Egypt.

Egyptians are partly in denial about more economic reforms and price hikes scheduled for July, while more subsidies on some commodities and services will be lifted per the next stage of reform. These will further test their endurance, but they are still holding on to a hope there will be light at the end of the tunnel, especially once the promised projects and factories start operations, and that tourism will make a comeback, and oil and natural gas will flow in rivers.

There are several regional issues that are unavoidable for Egyptian decision makers in 2018 because they are linked to the domestic scene, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and what options to pursue once all technical and political options fail. Also, confronting attempts to circumvent Egypt east and west, from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, to pressure the regime to change its path in foreign policy and serve the interests of countries that covet the region. Here, friendly Russia is on an equal footing with disguised foe US-Israel, and the remnants in Ankara, Tehran, Doha and Khartoum.

There are possible changes in the structure of power in several friendly and hostile regional countries that will negatively and positively impact Egypt’s policies, and create many challenges that must be dealt with definitively and with vision. There is also the omnipresent Palestinian issue and its ability to evoke emotions and the masses.

In 2018, Egypt will face a test of unity and true cohesion during which it must heal all its wounds and bounce back from all its blunders, in order to be able to confront the challenges of the region from a strong domestic footing. It needs the president to take the initiative in his second term, after the 30 June 2013 Revolution, to launch a political project that is the foundation for a momentous breakthrough for this people. It would lift their suffering and transform the sacrifices of the martyrs who died in 2017 and those before them, for the sake of achieving security, stability, prosperity and freedom for this country.

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