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Old 02-15-2011   #281
Fuchs
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Isn't 2/3rds of a country not remembering a time when they were free to speak their mind in public a good enough reason?

Maybe it was the contrast between the overt corruption of the Egyptian establishment and public servants on one side and the world as shown by Al Jazeera on the other side?


Food price inflation between 22 and 24% may have contributed, but only as a microeconomic issue, not as a macroecoonomic issue. The country as a whole was easily able to afford its nutrition.
A suppression of strikes and the resulting freeze of wages in combination with some other factors (insufficient effectiveness of food subsidies, for example) might be blamed if private food costs were really the issue.
I do somehow doubt that being hungry for lack of money and being a political activist with internet access fit together, though.


A usual suspect - income inequality - doesn't stand a basic test as a primary or even sole reason for the revolution. Many countries have a more appalling income distribution (including Turkey, most of both Americas and South Africa as examples).

Yet another usual suspect - unemployment and underemployment - doesn't stand a basic (superficial) test either (private sector employment grew by about 3% for several years, indicating no significantly deteriorating situation (or at least no deterioration below the state of about 2000).


Maybe - just maybe - the question should be directed at an Egyptian, not at a German. Just a thought.


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Originally Posted by Marc View Post
Actually, I do not understand why you are so adamant to reject the argument that someone's daily bread (literally) is a prime motivator for militant action. What simple tests allow you to do that?
As a professional economist, I differentiate between microeconomics and macroeconomics.
Population growth is a macroeconomic thing.
A family patron being working poor and unable to feed his family is a microeconomic thing.
Egypt was quite fine in the macroeconomic level (except for the trade balance deficit, of course - but that was not an immediate shock because they still got credit). Economic growth was higher than population growth. Population growth - the macroeconomic property - was thus not the immediate reason behind the revolution.
Things were likely really ugly at the microeconomic level for a large share of the urban population (rural populations rarely count in sudden revolutions - and they were probably profiteering in the last years anyway).
Here you can argue about bread price inflation and stagnant wages, but that's a completely different thing than population growth and world marked wheat prices.

In other words; population growth and wheat prices are far away behind several corners, while suppression of strikes and the resulting wage stagnation coupled with food price inflation are probably just around a single corner.

Last edited by Fuchs; 02-15-2011 at 09:51 PM. Reason: added 2nd part
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Old 02-15-2011   #282
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Default Can Egypt's military meet people's demands?

A BBC News summary, which covers the issues the new, sorry adjusted regime:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12471990


I was struck by these passages:
Quote:
This trust, however wary, may be unrealistic. The Egyptian military was the backbone of the regime of Hosni Mubarak, it has its own economic interests and may not be the unified and disciplined institution that it seems from the outside.
Citing Max Rodenbeck, the Economist's chief Middle East writer and a long-term Cairo resident:
Quote:
One of the many worries is that the military is so isolated from society, that it has been for so long a world unto itself. This was very useful when it had to step in to take control of the situation in a crisis. But does it have the management and communications skills and network to manage this situation?
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Old 02-15-2011   #283
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Egypt’s population size is approximately 80 million persons and it has an approximate debt of 80 billion USD.

Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt, By Gideon Rachman, Published: February 14 2011 21:28, Financial Times

Quote:
The Egyptian revolution was driven, not just by the internet, but by many of the same forces that have sparked revolutions throughout the ages: hatred of a corrupt autocracy and its secret police; the frustrations of a rising middle class; the desperation of the poor.
Quote:
This is a country where 44 per cent of the population is illiterate or semi-literate and where 40 per cent live on less than $2 a day. Low wages, rising food prices and high youth unemployment mean that there are plenty of frustrated people, whose voices will now be heard in a freer political climate. The government is already running a big budget deficit, so has few resources to buy off the discontented.
Egypt faces bleak outlook on debt, by Robin Wigglesworth, Published: February 9 2011 16:21 | Last updated: February 9 2011 16:21, Financial Times

Quote:
Egypt’s political upheaval sent the yield on the government’s 5.75 per cent bond due in April 2020 to a record of 7.2 per cent on January 31, when Egyptian credit-default swaps – a kind of bond default insurance – soared to 450 basis points. The yield on Egypt’s 2020 bond has since eased to about 6.3 per cent, and the cost of Egyptian CDSs has dropped to 345 basis points, according to Markit, a data provider.
Egypt Unrest Hits Projects, by Debra K. Rubin and Gary J. Tulacz, with Peter Reina, Jenna McKnight, Scott Lewis, and Tom Sawyer, Engineering News-Record, February 14, 2011

Quote:
A look at major projects in Egypt
  • Al Dabaa nuclear powerplant, Est. cost 4 billion USD, Egyptian and Austrailian firms involved
  • Cairo Metro transit line No. 3, Est. cost 3 billion USD, French and Egyptian firms involved
  • Nile Corniche mixed use development, Est. cost 1 billion USD, Dubai and Egyptian firms involved
  • Grand Egyptian Museum, Est. cost 800 million USD, US, UK, and Egyptian firms involved
  • Mall of Egypt, Est. cost 770 million USD, US and Egyptian firms involved
Credit Default Swaps

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In its simplest form, a credit default swap is a bilateral contract between the buyer and seller of protection. The CDS will refer to a "reference entity" or "reference obligor", usually a corporation or government. The reference entity is not a party to the contract. The protection buyer makes quarterly premium payments—the "spread"—to the protection seller. If the reference entity defaults, the protection seller pays the buyer the par value of the bond in exchange for physical delivery of the bond, although settlement may also be by cash or auction.[1][2] A default is referred to as a "credit event" and includes such events as failure to pay, restructuring and bankruptcy.[2] Most CDSs are in the $10–$20 million range with maturities between one and 10 years.[3]
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Old 02-15-2011   #284
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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
Would you please elaborate on this?
Those "missile gaps" were in part hoax (the one around '60), in part nonsense based on lack of logic thinking (the SS-20 scare). There was also no real bomber gap, ever - just a flimsy CONUS/Canada air defence and an almost worthless SM-1 naval air defence system.
The missile and bomber "gaps" were ultimately the result of a lack of information on Soviet capabilities. Until the U-2 and later the Corona program, there was little hard evidence for the numbers and production capabilities of Soviet bombers and later ICBMs. In this environment of information ambiguity, some within the US government took the Soviets at their word and came up with worst-case estimates of Soviet capabilities. Of course, politics was a big part of the picture too, as Senator's Symington and Kennedy used the supposed "gap" as a political issue against Eisenhower. In short, what began as incorrect assessments based on very limited information changed over time into what were clearly false claims as new information became available.

Although CIA estimates were lower than those from the USAF and others, they too were not accurate until intelligence from the U2 and Corona (both CIA programs at the time) began to provide some real data on Soviet capabilities. CIA estimates were changed based on the new information and, in hindsight, proved to be very accurate.
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Old 02-16-2011   #285
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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
Isn't 2/3rds of a country not remembering a time when they were free to speak their mind in public a good enough reason?
If despotism alone were enough to generate revolution there would be a lot fewer despots in the world.

In an urban environment with a large number of economically marginal residents the price of food is always a key issue, and it's been a major concern for despots for a long time: one recalls the Roman emperors placating the masses with bread and circuses, and Marie Antoinette's infamous "let them eat cake".

Micro is what it's all about: urban insurrections involve a very small percentage of the population. Overall employment rates mean less than the ability to absorb young people coming into the labor force, and GDP growth has little impact on the ability of poor people to put food in their stomachs or the ability of the government to supply cheap food.

Cairo had bread riots when wheat prices spiked in 2008, but the time wasn't yet ripe for expansion to full revolt. This time around it was different. Wheat prices spiked in 2008 and 2011; Cairo had rioting in the streets in 2008 and threw out a government in 2011... no relationship?

Of course resentment toward dictatorship is an underlying cause, but specific economic conditions play a major part in translating that general resentment into action. National unemployment may have been up, but it wasn't up among the mass of young urban males who compose the Twitterless footsoldiers of the revolution. Bread prices made a difference, and they will be a factor in the effort to produce a stable transition.
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Old 02-16-2011   #286
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Default The day before, of, and after the revolution.

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Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
If despotism alone were enough to generate revolution there would be a lot fewer despots in the world.
Dayuhan, there are indeed a number of factors influencing the origin, outcome, and consequences of a revolution. For a good analysis on these factors, written "in tempore non suspecto", I can recommend David B. Ottaway's "Egypt at a tipping point."

http://www.google.be/url?sa=t&source...sAuh3xr0pOPQag
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Old 02-16-2011   #287
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Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
Cairo had bread riots when wheat prices spiked in 2008, but the time wasn't yet ripe for expansion to full revolt. This time around it was different. Wheat prices spiked in 2008 and 2011; Cairo had rioting in the streets in 2008 and threw out a government in 2011... no relationship?
Bread "scuffles" would be a more accurate description of what happened in 2008--riots implies far more substantial and widespread protests than actually occurred.

Certainly the increase in food prices played a role, although in Egypt those prices increases were typically smaller than in many other countries because of subsidies. Youth unemployment was important too too, although again Egypt was not the worst country for this, nor had it grown much worse lately. Years of authoritarian regime played a role--although as you correctly note, that in itself is an inadequate explanation for revolt. In the Egyptian case, however, the deliberalization of parliamentary politics and a sense of an impending engineered hand-off to power to Gamal Mubarak exacerbated this, heightening discontent with the regime in general and (in the latter case) creating cracks within the Army. The creative use of ICTs certainly played a role.

Critically, Tunisia played a vital role by entirely changing people's perceptions of political opportunity structures. A very similar regime had just been overthrown through popular protest. The mukhabarat and other organs of state power had been shown to be less fearsome than had been previously believed.

I was just finishing up a book on the prospects for Arab democratization in December, when all of this started to unfold. While much needs to be rewritten (grrrrr), I'm quite pleased with what was a central argument of that manuscript: that what the Arab world needed was a "catalytic event" that would alter perceptions of authoritarian power and set in motion democratic demonstration effects... precisely of the sort we now see.
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Old 02-16-2011   #288
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Default State Owned Enterprises and privatization methods...

State Owned Enterprises

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A government-owned corporation, state-owned enterprise, state enterprise, government business enterprise, or parastatal is a legal entity created by a government to undertake commercial activities on behalf of an owner government. Their legal status varies from being a part of government into stock companies with a state as a regular stockholder. There is no standard definition of a government-owned corporation (GOC) or state-owned enterprise (SOE), although the two terms can be used interchangeably. The defining characteristics are that they have a distinct legal form and they are established to operate in commercial affairs. While they may also have public policy objectives, GOCs should be differentiated from other forms of government agencies or state entities established to pursue purely non-financial objectives that have no need or goal of satisfying the shareholders with return on their investment through price increase or dividends.[citation needed]
US Examples:

Egypt Generals Running Child Care Means Profit Motive, By Cam Simpson and Mariam Fam - Feb 15, 2011 3:00 PM MT, Bloomberg News

Quote:
As much as one-third of Egypt’s economy is under military control, said Joshua Stacher, an Egyptian-military expert and assistant professor at Kent State University in Ohio whose work has been published in five academic journals. Revenues from military companies are a state secret, along with the armed- forces budget, he said.
Quote:
It isn’t uncommon for governments and militaries to own or run their own defense-related industries and arms makers. In Singapore and Israel, for example, nationalized production of fighting hardware has been seen as a way to protect national security by avoiding dependence on foreign producers.

What sets apart the Egyptian military, the Arab world’s largest, is that its companies also offer an array of products or services in the domestic consumer economy -- and without civilian oversight.
Quote:
Military companies play a significant role in consumer food production, said Springborg, the Naval Postgraduate School professor.

Because the Egyptian military wanted to be self-sufficient in meeting the dietary needs of personnel, it runs “chicken farms, dairy farms, horticultural operations. And it of course has its own bakeries,” he said.

The military’s “business interests are very large,” said Bassma Kodmani, executive director of the Paris-based Arab Reform Initiative and a senior adviser at the French National Research Council. Those businesses, though, help build the nation and help keep capital within its borders.

“The army is not seen as corrupt,” she told a group of reporters in Paris last week. “It might seem strange to people in the west, but in Egypt it’s not considered shocking that the army builds highways or new housing projects.”
Treuhandanstalt

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The Treuhandanstalt (German: Trust agency) was the agency that privatized the East German enterprises, Volkseigener Betrieb (VEBs), owned as public property. Created by the Volkskammer on June 17, 1990, it oversaw the restructuring and selling of about 8,500 firms with initially over 4 million employees. At that time it was the world's largest industrial enterprise, controlling everything from steel works to the Babelsberg Studios.
Paul Brinkley's War, Pacifying Iraq with the Weapons of Capitalism, by Ullrich Fichtner, 04/22/2009, Speigel Online International

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Paul Brinkley is the head of a special American task force that aims to bring lasting peace to Iraq using the tools of capitalism. He represents a new approach to waging war, where the economic experts come in with the ground troops.
US Troubled Asset Relief Program

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The Troubled Asset Relief Program, commonly referred to as TARP, is a program of the United States government to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions to strengthen its financial sector which was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush on October 3, 2008. It was a component of the government's measures in 2008 to address the subprime mortgage crisis.
Originally expected to cost the U.S. taxpayers as much as $300 billion,[1] by 16 December, 2010 the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the total cost would be $25 billion,[2] although Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner argued that the final cost would be still lower. [3] This is significantly less than the taxpayers' cost of the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s. The cost of that crisis amounted to 3.2% of GDP during the Reagan/Bush era, while the GDP percentage of the current crisis' cost is estimated at less than 1%.[4] While it was once feared the government would be holding companies like GM, AIG and Citigroup for several years, those companies are preparing to buy back the Treasury's stake and emerge from TARP within a year.[5] Of the $245 billion invested in U.S. banks, over $169 billion has been paid back, including $13.7 billion in dividends, interest and other income, along with $4 billion in warrant proceeds as of April 2010. AIG is considered "on track" to pay back $51 billion from divestitures of two units and another $32 billion in securities.[4] In March 2010, GM repaid more than $2 billion to the U.S. and Canadian governments and on April 21 GM announced the entire loan portion of the U.S. and Canadian governments' investments had been paid back in full, with interest, for a total of $8.1 billion.[6] This was, however, subject to contention because it was noted that the automaker had only paid back its outstanding debt, while the much larger portion of the governments' investment would continue to be tied up in the company's stock.[7]

Citigroup strikes deal to repay TARP, By David Ellis, CNNMoney.com staff writer, Last Updated: December 14, 2009: 10:15 AM ET

Quote:
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Citigroup said Monday it has struck a deal with the government to return $20 billion in bailout money to taxpayers.

The New York City-based lender said it would raise the money through a combination of stock and debt, the bulk of which would come from a $17 billion common stock offering.
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Old 02-16-2011   #289
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Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
I'm quite pleased with what was a central argument of that manuscript: that what the Arab world needed was a "catalytic event" that would alter perceptions of authoritarian power and set in motion democratic demonstration effects... precisely of the sort we now see.
Rex Brynen,

In my view, there is too much focus on the revolution itself. Starting the revolution was the easy part. However, it's not the revolution that counts, but the day that follows it. As Mr Fukuyama rightly observed, democracy is not a kind of default condition to which societies revert after the disappearance of an autocratic regime. The only tangible result we currently have is a power vacuum. The power vacuum will soon be filled by the best available alternative. Two organizations have a head start in this race: the Army and the Muslim Brothers. Emerging democratic political parties need time to catch up. The international community has to provide that time by keeping Egypt's graneries well filled. In Egypt, "bread is everything" and the lack of it will quickly lead to riots, resulting in either a military regime or an Islamist government.

For democratic, secular parties to develop, the issue of food security has to be kept out of the debate. If necessary, international organizations have to step in to maintain food subsidies at their current level. However, even this does not guarantee a smooth transition towards democracy. What will the Egyptian political landscape look like six months from now? Three main actors will determine the outcome: secular groups, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Army. According to me, it is useful to analyze their plan A, their worst case scenario, and their plan B.

Plan A of the secular groups is to unite around a democratic project and lead Egypt towards freedom, security, and prosperity. Their worst case scenario is to be marginalized or oppressed by either a military autocrat or an Islamist regime. Their plan B is a power sharing arrangement between themselves and the Muslim Brotherhood to marginalize the regular army.

Plan A of the Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamic republic. However, the Muslim Brothers are pragmatic enough to realize this is not within reach at the moment. Such a project would require a popular Islamic army (like the Pasdaran in Iran) to balance the power of the regular army. At the moment, this is simply beyond their reach. Their worst case scenario is the emergence of a military autocrat like Nasser who removes them from the political scene. Their plan B is a power sharing arrangement between themselves and secular groups to marginalize the army.

Plan A of the Army is to found a military regime. However, the generals are not blind to the fact that this is precisely what the revolution was all about. At the moment, the generals are simply unable to put the genie back in the bottle. Their worst case scenario is the loss of all their priviliges as the prime political and economic power in Egypt. Their plan B is to bide their time and foster disagreements between the Muslim Brotherhood and secular groups and within secular groups themselves. Political instability will put the army in the role of arbitrator, a steppingstone towards a monopoly on political power.

I guess that, at the moment, all actors will opt for their Plan B. This will result in a system that is much more democratic than Moubarak's regime. However, it will be very fragile. Every actor will look for the first opportunity to move to Plan A and every actor will fear the worst case scenario is just around the corner.
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Old 02-17-2011   #290
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
Bread "scuffles" would be a more accurate description of what happened in 2008--riots implies far more substantial and widespread protests than actually occurred.
They were widely called riots at the time, though that might be considered overstatement. 7 dead is a fair scuffle, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
Certainly the increase in food prices played a role, although in Egypt those prices increases were typically smaller than in many other countries because of subsidies. Youth unemployment was important too too, although again Egypt was not the worst country for this, nor had it grown much worse lately. Years of authoritarian regime played a role--although as you correctly note, that in itself is an inadequate explanation for revolt. In the Egyptian case, however, the deliberalization of parliamentary politics and a sense of an impending engineered hand-off to power to Gamal Mubarak exacerbated this, heightening discontent with the regime in general and (in the latter case) creating cracks within the Army. The creative use of ICTs certainly played a role.

Critically, Tunisia played a vital role by entirely changing people's perceptions of political opportunity structures. A very similar regime had just been overthrown through popular protest. The mukhabarat and other organs of state power had been shown to be less fearsome than had been previously believed.
Certainly Tunisia provided the spark, equally certainly economic conditions played a part in building the volatility that the spark ignited.

The whole bread conversation got pulled off track... I didn't originally cite it because it was "the cause", but because I see it as a significant factor in the aftermath, simply because it's a place where immediate policy can have an immediate impact. Tunisia may have been a major contributor to igniting Egypt, but it won't be a major concern for a new government, unless of course the military decides to hold onto power. Food prices and unemployment will be major concerns going forward: the populace doesn't just want freedom, it wants jobs and cheap bread.

All this matters for a specific reason. Given Egypt's enormous debt, government deficit, and trade balance, IMF assistance and loan restructuring will probably be needed. The IMF and other creditors typically insist on terminating subsidies as a condition for assistance. This is good economics and it is necessary in the long term, but politically it could be a real problem. Egyptians have been addicted to that subsidy for a long time, and if they are forced to go cold turkey things could get ugly. I'm hoping the US and EU will use their influence to push for a gradual withdrawal of subsidies rather than an abrupt termination. A major shock early on could badly destabilize what's likely to be a very fragile transition government, creating conditions that could generate a radical takeover or a military coup, which would in turn create conditions that Islamic radicals could and would exploit.

This article from 2008 gives a little rundown on events then, and a hint of the dimensions of the subsidy...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/e...ad-crisis.html

Quote:
A 100 kilogram sack of subsidised flour is worth about $3.14. The same sack costs $377 on the black market.
When a subsidy of a staple need is that large, removing it in one swoop is going to cause all kinds of trouble, something that the beady-eyed economists in the IMF back office may not realize. Yes, it has to go, but I'd suggest taking it slow and easy... not that anyone cares what I suggest!
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Old 02-17-2011   #291
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Quote:
n an urban environment with a large number of economically marginal residents the price of food is always a key issue, and it's been a major concern for despots for a long time: one recalls the Roman emperors placating the masses with bread and circuses, and Marie Antoinette's infamous "let them eat cake".

Micro is what it's all about: urban insurrections involve a very small percentage of the population. Overall employment rates mean less than the ability to absorb young people coming into the labor force, and GDP growth has little impact on the ability of poor people to put food in their stomachs or the ability of the government to supply cheap food.
Food security and affordability are a major driver in all CENTCOM areas, and interplays with drought/weather patterns and urbanization/rural abandonment.

Urban systems are just plain complicated.

Lately, I have been fascinated with the structure of governments in these areas, from North Africa to Afghanistan.

All have governance systems built on the original Persian satraps, later appearing as Greece, then Roman provinces, all arranged in top down hierarchies from empire/nation, down to provinces, and in turn, down to districts and subdistricts, all inferior sub-entities under the empire/nation.

It's interesting to me that the later rulers/occupiers/dictators all kep[t the structure, assuring the subservience of sub-national government entities to the empire/nation.

Not that "form" must dictate result, any more than geography or climate does, it is a substantial influence.

Older systems of City-States (cities, towns and the regions associated with them) pre-dated the empire/nation satraps/provinces) and provided formats for numerous alternative and changeable affiliations within a framework that, in reality, was a lot closer to "democracy." No doubt, local rulers could be as bad as any, but they faced many obstacles to deep insanity, not to mention loss of local support, loss of revenues from trade, and loss of people (voting by feet).

I wonder how much the actual top-down structure of these empire/nation's governance systems will continue to minimize emergence of local and representative governance, whether in Iran, Iraq, or Egypt?

I have long suspected that, once we were gone, Iraqis would (and are) developing alternate systems of cities and regions that will, in the end, break the "eternal" mold of conquerors' governance systems.

What was one of their first big constitutional steps in Iraq? Article 123 that provides for regions and alternative systems and structures.

Absent structural changes, will most Egyptian aspirations be limited? Still under a system biased towards centralized controls, as our "provinces" plan for Iraq was?
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Old 02-17-2011   #292
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Catherine Ashton discussed a potential role for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in the stabilization of Egypt during a recent op-ed in the Financial Times.

The Country Assessment from the ERBD's 2010 Transition Report, regarding Turkey, was interesting:

Quote:
In 2009 a total of 106 privatisation deals were completed, including 52 small-scale hydropower plants, electricity distribution companies in 13 regions and infrastructure. Tenders were announced or completed for another eight distribution companies between November 2009 and August 2010. Privatisation also progressed in the transport sector, with two ports sold this year: Samsun and Bandirma. Further sales of state-owned ports, toll motorways and bridges are envisaged in the privatisation portfolio for 2010-11. In total, privatisation revenues amounted to US$ 2.3 billion in 2009 (0.4 per cent of GDP compared with a target of 0.5 per cent) and US$ 941 million for the period of January to July 2010 (the target for a year as a whole is 1.0 per cent of GDP). Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows in 2009, which contracted by more than half compared with the previous year, were mainly directed at the electricity, gas and water supply sectors, in line with the government’s 2009-10 privatisation programme.

Efforts are under way to diversify Turkey’s energy sources. In May 2010 the government signed an agreement with Russia, estimated at US$ 20 billion, for a Russian firm to build and own a majority stake in Turkey’s first nuclear power plant. Another agreement valued at US$ 1 billion was signed with Iran to construct a new gas export pipeline from Iran via Turkey to Europe, with construction expected to take three years. Lastly, important progress has been made on the Nabucco pipeline, with a memorandum of understanding signed by Turkey and Azerbaijan in June 2010 to develop trade in natural gas.
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Old 02-24-2011   #293
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PBS material on the making of the upheaval:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...source=toparea
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Old 02-27-2011   #294
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Default Francafrique update...

Then candidate Sarkozy's position on Francafrique in The Economist, Dec 13th 2006, The glory days are passing, France debates the need to move beyond its traditional spheres of influence

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Could all this change under a new president? Whoever is elected may well order a full defence review, which would have to look long and hard at Africa. For his part, Mr Sarkozy, with his tough immigration policy, has a hard-nosed approach. In a bold speech in Benin earlier this year he declared that it was time to stop looking at the foreign presence in Africa as a zero-sum game of influence. France, he said, needed a more transparent, less paternalistic relationship with Africa. “Relations between modern states must not depend only on the quality of personal links between heads of state,” he added, in a thinly disguised jibe at Mr Chirac and the phenomenon known as Francafrique, “but on a frank and objective dialogue.”

As for the Middle East, both Mr Sarkozy and Ms Royal want to warm up relations with Israel, suggesting that under either France may temper its Arabist instincts. Israel knows this. Two days before meeting Mr Sarkozy in Paris, Ms Livni dined with Ms Royal in Jerusalem. To Israel's delight, Ms Royal has stuck by her unorthodox line that Iran should be stopped from enriching uranium even for civilian use. France has usually argued that its influence in the region depends on its credibility with Arab friends. The next president may put that doctrine to the test.
From the Economist, No winds of change, Despite Nicolas Sarkozy's rhetoric, France's new Africa policy is a lot like the old one, Jun 1st 2010

Quote:
In some ways Mr Sarkozy has tried to turn the page on what is known as françafrique: the backroom network of personal, business and political links, fed by petro-dollars and backed by left and right, that has traditionally characterised French Africa policy. He has updated old defence agreements. He has reoriented France’s military presence on the continent, often seen locally as a sign of post-colonial paternalism, towards the Horn of Africa. Last year Mr Sarkozy opened a new base in Abu Dhabi, and this year he decided to scale back the one in Senegal.
Quote:
Yet old habits die hard. Mr Sarkozy may no longer have installed at the Elysée Palace a “Monsieur Afrique”, as Charles de Gaulle called his special Africa fixer, Jacques Foccart. But informal contacts still count. Two years ago, Jean-Marie Bockel, Mr Sarkozy’s overseas-aid minister, lost his job not long after deploring the “weight of bad habits, the preservation of individual interests, the defence of certain inherited rentier situations” in françafrique. According to Robert Bourgi, a lawyer to Omar Bongo—a former president of Gabon, who died last year—Mr Bockel went on the instructions of Mr Bongo.
Foreign Policy, Le Scandal, The Arab world's revolutions have exposed the moral bankruptcy of France's foreign policy, BY ERIC PAPE | FEBRUARY 25, 2011

Quote:
Two months into 2011, the transformation of North Africa has exposed a slew of moral failings in French policy in the Arab world, and it has raised a flurry of questions about Alliot-Marie's ethics, judgment, and veracity. Political observers and even government ministers are already debating who might take her place, perhaps in the coming days. The French diplomatic corps is increasingly turning on the president as his Middle East policy continues to disintegrate.
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Old 03-25-2011   #295
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Default Egyptians choose order over further political upheaval

Oddly there has been little coverage of the 'new' Egypt and the recent referendum had barely a mention - I expect all the reporters are in Libya - so this IISS Strategic Comment is welcome.

Link:http://www.iiss.org/publications/str...ical-upheaval/

Penultimate paragraph:
Quote:
Egypt continues to suffer from aftershocks from the revolution, including episodic violence and economic disruptions. By supporting the army's plans, Egyptians have made clear their preference for order and a strong state. The army is not by nature inclined towards radical change. However, as it continues to oversee the transition, it will need to demonstrate creativity as it seeks to protect its institutional position while not standing in the way of change.
I do wonder how such a nation can do without an effective and legitimate police. There has been mention of traffic police being back on the streets.
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Old 03-30-2011   #296
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Default From The Monkey Cage: Urban Social Networks, Mobilization, and State Strategies

From The Monkey Cage (www.themonkeycage.org)

http://www.themonkeycage.org/2011/03...down.html#more

BLUF:

Quote:
The argument I made is that urban social networks can be powerful underpinnings for mobilization, and that the onset of insurgency hinges in crucial ways on how states react to this urban mobilization. State strategies and policies, driven by the interests of regimes and security forces, are more important in shaping what happens to urban uprisings than the raw stock of government capacity and material power. The fate of rebellions, given surging social mobilization, rests on fundamentally political decisions about whether to unleash extreme violence on urban protesters and insurgents.
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Old 05-12-2011   #297
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Meanwhile, from Page B3 of your local fish-wrapper...

Quote:
Three months after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, a surging crime wave in post-revolutionary Egypt has emerged as a serious threat to its promised transition to democracy. Businessmen, politicians and human rights activists say they fear that the mounting disorder — from sectarian strife to soccer riots — is hampering a desperately needed economic recovery or, worse, inviting a new authoritarian crackdown.

At least five attempted jailbreaks have been reported in Cairo in the past two weeks, at least three of them successful. Other similar attempts take place “every day,” a senior Interior Ministry official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/wo...t/13egypt.html

Quote:
AMONG THE MORE heartening aspects of the peaceful revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak was the way it brought together people from across Egypt’s social and religious spectrum. Muslims joined hands, literally and figuratively, with members of the country’s large Coptic Christian minority and stood together for democracy.

So one of the most disheartening events since Mr. Mubarak’s downfall was the sectarian violence in Cairo over the weekend, in which 13 people, six Muslims and seven Coptic Christians, died. Security personnel apparently did little to stop the mayhem, which began when Muslim men advanced on a Coptic church and armed Christians gathered to defend it. It was an episode disturbingly similar to many others over the past decades in which Egyptian Christians came under attack and the Mubarak regime did little or nothing to prevent or punish the perpetrators.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinio...fsG_story.html
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Old 09-27-2011   #298
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Default Has Egypt's revolution become a military coup?

Quote:
CAIRO, Egypt — Just days after the departure of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, the nation’s new, self-appointed military leaders pledged, within six months, a swift transition to civilian rule.

Crowds of the same protesters that demanded Mubarak’s ouster cheered as their army said it would steer the nation toward a “free, democratic system.” Seven months later, however, many Egyptians are finding that little has changed.

As the so-called Supreme Council of the Armed Forces increasingly cements, and in some cases flaunts, its firm grip on power, the revolution that inspired a region is beginning to look more like an old-fashioned military coup.
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/n...-military-coup

And if so, who is behind these shennanigans?

Quote:
CAIRO: A fresh attack overnight on a pipeline delivering gas from Egypt to Israel left one person injured, witnesses and Egyptian security sources said Tuesday.

At least three gunmen in a van opened fire on a gas installation before an explosion hit the pipeline near the town of al-Arish in the north of the Sinai peninsula, witnesses said.

It was the sixth such attack on the pipeline, which carries gas through the Sinai and on to Jordan and Israel, since Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February.
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stori...155743/1/.html

Thread for reference : http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...715#post115715
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Old 10-03-2011   #299
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"Some experts believe that Egypt’s military advisors simply may not know anything other than the exertion of power through brute force. The current leaders running the country, after all, also ruled during Mubarak's three decades in office." Therefore, invariably, the military must remain in their barracks to squander public money in all their maneuvers, except politics.
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Old 10-13-2011   #300
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Quote:
Alarmed by an increasing sense of insecurity, a growing number of Egyptians in northern Sinai are stockpiling and arming themselves with heavy weapons coming in from Libya. The arms are easy to come by since the revolution in Egypt and subsequent rebellion in Libya.
http://www.npr.org/2011/10/13/141303...arm-themselves

Fun fact : going price for a KPV is $15k.

Quote:
EL ARISH, Egypt — Large caches of weapons from Libya are making their way across the Egyptian border and flooding black markets in Egypt’s already unstable Sinai Peninsula, according to current and former Egyptian military officials and arms traders in the Sinai.

Egyptian security officials have intercepted surface-to-air missiles, most of them shoulder-launched, on the road to Sinai and in the smuggling tunnels connecting Egypt to the Gaza Strip since Moammar Gaddafi fell from power in Libya in August, a military official in Cairo said. Arms traders said the weapons available on Sinai’s clandestine market include rockets and antiaircraft guns.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/...ufL_story.html
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