In contrast to many neighboring nations, Sisi has not been entirely against capitalism and other Western concepts and institutions that often come with it. Since 2013, Sisi’s government has implemented extensive economic reforms in order to combat Egypt’s weak economy and satisfy the conditions of certain IMF loans. While many of these reforms have had positive impacts on the growth of Egypt’s economy, they have had direct negative impacts on the quality of life for many Egyptians. Unfortunately, the international community has largely ignored these implications in favor of focusing upon Egypt’s economic success since Sisi has come to power; not exactly a new strategy for Western nations, but not the best one either…
Pro of Economic Reforms + More international partners
Through massive projects such as the Suez Canal extension, Sisi has hoped to gain back some interest and trust from outside investors. This is due to the fact that many believe “the solution to Egypt’s longer term economic problems will not come from any sort of austerity internally or restructuring of the fiscal budget. It’s got to come from the catalyzation of investments.” Thus far, this seems to prove true. Now, Egypt’s economy is being hailed as one of the region’s fastest-growing economies, “favored especially by international bond investors seeking high yields in an increasingly uncertain global environment.” Sisi’s perceived economic success has provided strong arguments for his gaining of more international allies as well as his need to stay in power for the stability success of Egypt. Moreover, his newfound admiration has effectively covered the many allegations against Sisi in that the international community could care less about his illiberalism. As long as they see high returns, regional security, commercial considerations (e.g. arms deals), along with support for further economic reforms, they’re content; meaning Sisi is content. But at what cost?
Con of Economic Reforms - More poverty in Egypt → More social unrest
While Sisi stands to gain from the macroeconomic improvements taking place in Egypt, the majority of his constituents stand to lose, extensively. A combination of diminishing freedoms and tough economic reform has led to expansive economic grievances in the country that will not be quickly solved nor silenced, no matter how hard Sisi may try. To take one example, the liberalization of the exchange rate of the Egyptian pound led to price increases on food that made millions incapable of meeting their simplest needs. Other reforms that have led to an increase in people living below the poverty line, unable to make ends meet include substantial cuts in state subsidies on basic goods and the introduction of a wide range of new taxes. Implications such as these prove that while the harsh economic reforms enacted by Sisi seem to be doing good on paper, stocks and statistics do not tell the whole story.