In his editorial for Saudi-owned Asharq Alawsat, Adel Al Toraifi, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, points out an important fact: ideology isn’t enough to run a country. The newly elected governments of Egypt and Tunisia, for example, may have lots of popular support based on their electoral promises, but now they have to deliver. The state of their economies is challenging, to say the least. So far, though, they do not seem to have addressed the very real problems of economics, promising far more than they are capable of delivering. As a result of their revolutions, the economies in these states took serious hits. Their indebtedness has soared, but there’s little to be seen in the way of growing their economies. Inflation, scarcities, and unemployment are climbing while economic growth is in negative figures.
Having taken control of new governments, they must now show that they can govern.
The Watermelon Revolutions
Adel Al Toraifi
An old joke popular among economists says when you have two cows, the state takes one of them and gives it to someone else. This is the socialist system. In a communist system, the state takes both cows from you and gives you milk. Finally, in the capitalist system, you keep one cow and sell the other to buy a bull.
But what would we say about a system governed by an Islamic fundamentalist group? In this system the regime seizes both cows from you, the first because it’s not compatible with their understanding of sharia law—and the other to sell, either because you do not have the money to feed it, or you can’t find anyone to buy it.
There is no doubt that the “revolutionary” Islamist governments that came to power in both of Tunisia and Egypt are not responsible for the financial losses resulting from the transitional phase, or for the volume of spending inherited from former regimes, or for the costly transitional government’s bill, but in the end they are responsible for leading their states out of economic crisis. Unfortunately, however, any neutral observer can see that they are more concerned with seizing all the organs of the state, or changing the rules of the political game in their favor, even if this means circumventing the electoral processes that brought them to power. What has happened in Egypt over the past two weeks, especially President Mohammed Mursi’s constitutional decrees, gives the impression that the Muslim Brotherhood intend to undermine their partners in the “revolution” one by one, until they are able to monopolize power in Egypt for decades to come.
Perhaps it is necessary here to consider the economic situation in the “Arab Spring” countries. According to a recent IMF report, the countries which witnessed popular uprisings leading to changes in their political systems are suffering from deadly economic crises that could disrupt their growth for decades and even lead to permanent damage.