01/27/2017, 17.24
EGYPT
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Arab spring’ anniversary marked quietly amid economic crisis and terrorist warnings

by Loula Lahham

For Egypt’s president, the revolution was a turning point in Egypt’s history, a sign of the Egyptian people’s desire for change. The decline in tourism and inflation have negatively affected an already ailing economy. Only the Tahrir Square metro station is no closed; no public celebration was held and no violence has been reported.

Cairo (AsiaNews) – In his official speech on the sixth anniversary of the revolution of 25 January 25 2011, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi confirmed that this revolution would forever be remembered as a turning point in the history of Egypt, an expression of Egyptians’ desire for change and for building a better future for their country.

In January 2011, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against then-President Hosni Mubarak, demanding rights, dignity and better living conditions.

The events, at first led by young people, came in the wake of protests in Tunisia, and soon escalated into open clashes with hundreds of casualties. Cairo’s Tahrir Square became the symbol of the revolt, with rallies turning into a permanent sit-in.

On 11 February, the revolt led to Mubarak’s resignation, who gave up power after 30 years to the armed forces. This was followed by the first elections that led to the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohammed Morsi.

The grassroots revolution of June 2013 was different. It called for the removal of Morsi to rectify the direction in which the country was going to protect most notably the nation from ruin and destruction.

In theory this is acceptable, but in practice and in daily life, 100 million Egyptians now face a worsening economic crisis. Food prices have increased on average by 33 per cent, with rice up by a record 77 per cent. Health costs are up by 33 per cent, transport by 30 per cent, tobacco by 25 per cent, household appliances by 43 per cent, and, clothes of 25 per cent.

Monthly inflation hit 3.4 per cent in December over the previous month. In November it was up by 5 per cent compared to 1.8 per cent in October.

According to the governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), Tarek Amer, tourism – the mainstay of the Egyptian economy – has generated lower revenues, US$ 3.4 billion compared to 11 billions in 2011, a drop of about 70 per cent.

This situation is due to regional instability, exacerbated by security concerns and terrorism. At present, many tourists prefer to spend their holidays in safer locations.

Tourism is a strategic component of the Egyptian economy and its decline is one of the reasons for a deficit in the balance of payments of about US$ 20 billion. In 2010 it was only four billion dollars.

All this, Tarek Amer noted, has prompted the CBE to intervene to control an alarming situation, letting the Egyptian pound fluctuate.

Egyptian exports have also dropped from US$ 24 to 19 billion during the same period, whilst imports have gone from US$ 49 to 57 billion dollars between 2010 and 2016.

The anniversary of the revolution, the second after Tunisia’s, dubbed the ‘Arab Spring’ by the US administration, took place in an atmosphere of calm without protests or violence.

Only the Sadat metro station, in the famous Tahrir Square, was shut down. Here, hundreds of protesters were killed starting on 25 January 2011.

Six years later, on 25 January 2017, President al Sisi took his first quiet holiday since taking office, in the ancient city of Aswan, under the glare of cameras.

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