Club de Monaco – Doha, Qatar
23-26 February 2012
To understand the causes of the Egyptian Revolution of January 25, 2011 we must review a bit of history: In 2005, the constitution was modified to stipulate that the president would be elected, not by referendum, while imposing such stringent conditions on eligibility that it was nearly impossible for an independent candidate to run against the incumbent.
The Egyptian intelligentsia was understandably disappointed that Egypt was becoming increasingly autocratic in its governance; especially considering that in the 1920’s Egypt was one of the first countries in the region to ratify a constitution.
Likewise, a few years before the revolution, Egyptians realized that measures were being taken to pave the way for Gamal Mubarak to succeed his father as president, virtually implementing a hereditary ruling system, something that the majority of the public, including the army, rejected.
Finally, politicians were irritated by president Mubarak’s consistent refusal to appoint a vice-president, out of fear that this might prevent his son from coming to power.
When the revolution broke out on January 25th, the ruling regime did not take seriously the young people demonstrating at Tahrir square. It hesitated in responding to the aspirations of the demonstrators, relying on the army to restore public order. The army, however, refused to fire into the crowds.
In analyzing the Egyptian revolution and the motivations of the youth, we cannot ignore the catastrophic role played by the hooligans and outlaws who mingled with the demonstrators threatening public order and stability. Egyptians are fully aware that these outlaws aim to destabilize the country and that they see the army as an adversary, in spite of its role as protector of the revolution.
Regarding stability, which is directly linked to the problem of security in the street, it is clear that many forces in the country have targeted the police and security services. A theme that has become fashionable, “reforming the police system”, is being used to justify all attacks against those who provide citizen’s safety.
I have used the platforms of TV programs and articles in the press to stress the danger of removing policemen from their posts without due process. When this happens, the public is left at the mercy of criminals.
One of the positive signs emerging after the revolution was the refusal of the Egyptian public, on February 11th 2012, to support a call for civil disobedience that would cause the country to grind to a halt. The Egyptian people have shown a level of maturity worthy of our respect. And the army, which fulfilled its task of protecting the public, will continue to assume that task in the coming presidential elections June 30th, when they hand over power to the new president and civilian authority.
When speaking about Egypt, it is true that in the fields of economic and social development, it is no longer possible to separate security from investment and aid.
Egypt is now at a critical phase in its economic situation:
- Central bank reserves have dropped by 8.5 billion dollars
- Tourism has leveled out at 8.8 billion dollars compared to 12 billion dollars for 2010
- Egypt’s debt repayment to the Club de Paris is now 700 million dollars every 6 months
- Unemployment has increased dramatically
- Aid pledged by the European Community and Gulf countries has still not arrived
However, two hopes for the future remain:
- The International Monetary Fund’s promise to grant Egypt a loan of 3.2 billion dollars with 1.2% interest rate so as to strengthen 2011-2013 revenues and compensate for the reduction in the level of foreign currency reserves at the Central Bank that currently stand at around 16 billion dollars
- Negotiations under way between Egypt and the World Bank to facilitate a loan of 1 billion dollars
In light of such deteriorated economic conditions and precarious security situation, we must understand that fixing the economy and maintaining security are inseparable needs.
Everyone here today is fully aware that Egypt is and must remain a centerpiece of stability in the Middle-East. A call from you to support the Egyptian economy will be conducive to the cause of peace in the region.
One of the last things I would like to say, speaking about the situation in the Middle-East, is to reassure you that both the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, the government and the parliament, in spite of the Muslim brotherhood’s majority, has confirmed, in keeping with Egyptian law that binds all agreements reached at the international level, that there is no question of putting the Camp David agreements at risk.
In this respect, I pay tribute to the sustained and wise efforts made by the department of external security, what Americans call “national security”, presided by General Mourad Mowafi, to reconcile our security needs with our foreign policy aims, in maintaining stable relations between Egypt and Israel. It is of note that this department has worked to bring opposing Palestinian factions closer together, while maintaining good relationship with most Arab, European and American leaders.
Speaking about relations with the United States, despite some differences from time to time, the United States of America is and will continue to be a strategic partner in our international relations, as confirmed by U.S. General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during his last visit to Egypt a few days ago.
The voice of reason leads us to call for giving the forces of reason in Israel a chance to make peace with the Palestinians and to take advantage of the rapprochement between the Palestinian Authority, headed by Abou Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), and Hamas in Gaza, headed by Ismail Haniyeh, to ensure the success of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
We must not forget than during more than half a century, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been behind all the wars and hostilities in the region, and above all, continues to present an obstacle to peace between the people of the Middle East.