Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Egypt has won and its enemies have lost | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi greets delegates as he walks to the podium before speaking on the final day of a major economic conference that has injected billions of dollars’ worth of aid and investment in his country, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on March 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Even the most optimistic of Egyptian officials could not have expected the Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) to succeed the way it has. In one fell swoop Egypt has now officially exited this period of political isolation, delivering a stunning blow to the naysayers and gloom merchants who said the threat of terror attacks would put off global investors and leaders from coming to the conference. And yet here is Egypt, resurgent and stronger, with new economic blood—some 130 billion US dollars of it—flowing through its veins after four years in the doldrums. The amount of money pledged at the conference and those who attended are a resounding vote of confidence for Egypt—for as they say, “capital is a coward” that flees unpredictability and instability and only goes where it is confident it will grow.

Yes, Egypt has reclaimed the world’s confidence and its hallowed position and weight in the region, a point on which no one could possibly challenge it.

But what success Egypt has achieved through the unprecedented economic and political support it has received at this conference should be the beginning and not the end-point of its current efforts. The next steps by the government will be much more important, and putting Egypt on the right track economically will require investments not aid or donations such as that provided to Egypt by Saudi Arabia following Mohamed Mursi’s ouster in July 2013. This comprised 4 billion dollars split between 1 billion dollars in the form of central bank deposits and 3 billion dollars spread over a number of projects administered by the Saudi Fund for Development, the Saudi Export Program, and joint private sector projects—proving, by the way, that the money was for the benefit of the Egyptian people and not powerful individuals or entities as some have shamelessly alleged.

The sheer wantonness of the recent efforts by some of Egypt’s enemies, who have been working day and night both inside and outside the country to bring down the current administration, is astonishing. I can understand someone not being particularly enamored with Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his government, and even attempting to work against them politically, but when those actions impact the economic fortunes of more than 90 million people . . . well, you have to wonder. The country can never rise on its feet once again if its people find it difficult to secure their basic needs. But, of course, through this conference Egypt has shown it is not only capable of attracting investment, but that it is a highly lucrative investment destination to boot, with major companies and individuals the world over clamoring to get involved.

At this point it would be pertinent to speak of the double standards of some of the Western countries’ positions toward Egypt. Many Western governments were present at the conference, most notably the United States through the involvement of Secretary of State John Kerry. The Obama administration seems to have finally realized its mistake regarding Egypt and is slowly making efforts to repair its relationship with Cairo, but other big nations are yet to follow suit, appearing through their comments and actions to have misunderstood the reality on the ground in Egypt. This was something Saudi Crown Prince Muqrin Bin Abdulaziz highlighted during his speech at the conference when he called on the international community not to deal with Egypt using these double standards, and to “try to understand the situation on the ground in more detail, and support the Egyptian government’s efforts to achieve stability and development.” This was echoed by President Sisi himself, who in his latest interview with Asharq Al-Awsat said that some Western countries have a problem when it comes to understanding Egypt, and that it takes them some time to adjust to new and sudden changes, as happened after July 2013.

In the end it was important for Egypt to show the whole world it had “awakened” once again, as President Sisi put it on Saturday, and for the international community to come together to support this key nation in the region and help its people out of their four-year period of misery. It was also essential that the attempts to foil Egypt’s new course backfired, even if those behind them may try again.

Egypt is now back on track and moving forward with unstoppable momentum. Any attempts by its enemies to derail its course are now simply irrelevant.