ARAB TIMES, WEDNESDAY, JULY 6, 2011 ISSUES 12 Expectations are soaring Egypt’s revolution disrupts daily life, economy CAIRO, July 5, (AP): The quarrel on a growing frustration amid the optimism opment programs. The cash-strapped year after. Since then, GDP growth for month, boosting salaries for several mil- anchor for public finances,” Citigroup bridge spanning the Nile went like this. that was the soundtrack for Egypt’s rev- government is relying on new aid from this fiscal year has been slashed to as low lion people. Government spending on said in a report in June. “If, on the other A driver stops to gawk at protesters olution since the ouster of former Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States as 1 percent by some estimates, with a education, health and other social servic- hand, relations between the West and the crowding the sidewalks along the bridge. President Hosni Mubarak in February. and other countries who say they want to government forecast of 3 percent next es eats up about 54 percent of the money. new Egyptian regime deteriorate, the fis- Traffic is snarled. Tempers flare and car Egyptians are now looking to a future help Egypt make a transition to democ- year. Wages for the public sector account for cal trajectory becomes much more horns blare. A well-dressed man jumps in which they hope, for the first time in racy. But many worry even that won’t be Growth another $20 billion — a 23 percent uncertain.” out of his car to berate the driver. decades, to chart their own course. With enough to meet the burgeoning hopes of increase over the current year’s budget. Egyptian officials are well aware of “Move! Move! I’m fed up with wait- the floodgates open, they are taking to the population. The need to see econom- The plunge in growth only worsens The overall price tag is $83 billion, the risks. At least two US business dele- ing for you to move!” he screams. the streets to press for long-pent-up ic progress right now could swamp an problems that long festered under while revenue is forecast at $59 billion. gations have come to Egypt in the past The driver gets out of his car and yells demands — more housing, better pay, already fragile boat, as Egypt also tries to Mubarak’s rule. Some of the shortfall is met by few weeks, including one led by senators back some choice insults, repeatedly jab- lower prices. Expectations are soaring, work out its political turmoil. In Mubarak’s final years, almost half increasing taxes, including a new 10 per- John McCain and John Kerry, both of bing the first man in the chest. As a even as they tell themselves not every- “Everyone wants what they want now. the population lived near or below a cent tax on cigarettes. But Egypt is also whom praised the changes taking place crowd forms and voices rise higher, the thing can be solved at once. No one is willing to wait,” said clothing poverty line of $2 per day, according to depending on more than $20 billion in in the country. men are pulled apart. Shirts are straight- store clerk Mansour Hamed, sipping a the World Bank. Unemployment among promises it has secured from various For Steven Farris, chief executive of ened, shoulders patted in an attempt to Turmoil youth, who make up the majority of the coffee at a roadside cafe while others donors, including Gulf Arab states, the the oil and gas producer Apache Corp., soothe. But the turmoil, fueled in part by the around him nodded in agreement. population, was at least double the offi- US, and the Group of Eight industrial- the first impression came from a local “If you want to watch, why don’t you continuing protests, is making it harder “That’s not how to build a country.” cial rate of about 10 percent. Food infla- ized nations. But to keep that aid coming employee who met him at the airport, just park somewhere and join them,” the to address the demands. Revenue from The complaints are not lost on the cur- tion stood at more than 15 percent per in the future, Egypt must show progress brimming with excited optimism. first man yells. Then, as he hops back tourism, worker remittances and foreign rent government and the country’s mili- year, jobs were scarce, salaries barely on both the economic and political “He sparkled,” said Farris, who led into his car, he barks — as much to the investment plunged sharply after the rev- tary rulers. adequate and affordable housing a dis- fronts. The overriding concern, both one of the delegations. “You can feel the protesters as the other motorist: “Some olution, while manufacturing and pro- Finance Minister Samir Radwan, who tant dream. In the four months since inside and outside the country, is that the enthusiasm and you can feel the hope.” of us are trying to work. We can’t keep ductivity were hard hit. Many complain by virtue of his post has become one of Mubarak ceded control to the military, growing power of the fundamentalist Egyptians do have hope — even if living like this.” that their lives are worse off economical- the most visible figures in the transition- those numbers have not improved. Muslim Brotherhood will strain ties with heavily tempered by caution. Abdel-Meguid Omar, who helped ly than under Mubarak, increasing the al government, told reporters recently The new budget, for the fiscal year the United States and the West. An April survey by the US-based break up the fight, looks around him, pressure for immediate change. that the revolution had created a “new starting July 1, aims to get the country International Republic Institute found shrugs and sums up the scene with the In a make-or-break year, Egypt’s tran- atmosphere” in the country and that, through what Radwan recently described Elections that 89 percent of Egyptians polled said sarcasm and humor for which Egyptians sitional government is trying to show it without doubt, “there are difficulties.” as a “bottleneck” by easing tensions long Elections planned for September will the country was moving in the right have long been famous: “So, this is can make at least some tangible Weeks before the uprising, the old enough for the economy to get back on be key. direction. But 81 percent rated the econ- democracy...” improvements. Officials have approved regime was touting economic growth its feet. “If the political hurdle for support is omy as poor, and 41 percent said they The man’s complaint over the contin- the new budget for fiscal 2011-2012, a projections of 5.8 percent for this fiscal It sets a new government sector mini- cleared, G8 and multilateral financial have trouble covering their basic needs uing disruption of daily life reflects a populist behemoth of welfare and devel- year ending in June and 6 percent for the mum wage at 700 pounds ($110) per support will provide somewhat of an and feeding their families. Deal may be near Syria Libya peace gathers pace LONDON, July 5, (RTRS): The search for a political solution to Libya’s war has quietly moved up a gear despite tough- looking declarations by Muammar Gaddafi and his rebel foes suggesting they can fight on. In part, the impression of a quickening behind the scenes peace effort stems from the sheer number of statements made by the combatants urging a settle- ment, aggressive and sometimes contra- dictory though some of these commu- niques are. Speculation, analysts say, that a deal may be in the works has also been heightened by unconfirmed talk that rebels have eased some operations against Gaddafi, as either a short-term military tactic or, possibly, to facilitate negotiations. And some say an arrest warrant for Gaddafi issued by the world court at The Hague has spurred deal-making by giv- ing the West potential new leverage in the form of a possible offer of immunity in return for him stepping down from power. “My hunch is that we’re not far from the end game,” Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, told Reuters. “There’s definitely something going on,” said UK-based opposition journalist and analyst Ashour Shamis, referring to his belief that political efforts had been stepped up. “There are now more efforts to bring things to a conclusion and avoid an armed struggle for Tripoli, which would be very messy,” he said, referring to the capital, a Gaddafi bastion. Gaddafi has rejected all international calls for him to step down and said he will fight to the end, but people in his inner circle have signalled they are ready to negotiate with the rebels, including on the Libyan leader’s political future. Rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said on Sunday Gaddafi was welcome to live A protester paints the face of a child with the colors of the Syrian flag during an anti-Syrian regime rally near the Syrian embassy in Cairo, Egypt on July 5. Syrian troops fired Tuesday on residents who out his retirement in Libya as long as he set up makeshift roadblocks to prevent the advance of tanks ringing the city of Hama, which has become a flashpoint of the uprising against autocratic President Bashar Assad, activists said. (AP) gave up all power, in the clearest rebel concession to date. Assault could ignite wider unrest On Monday Jalil issued a statement saying he had wanted to “clarify” that there was no possibility for Gaddafi to stay in Libya and he would have to face justice. Deal Jalil also said there had been no nego- Assad faces dilemma in Hama BEIRUT, July 5, (RTRS): Syrian on the outskirts of the city. The tanks “It’s the most blatant illustration of just regional appetite to confront Assad. unify efforts to transform the country tiations with Gaddafi. Gaddafi’s admin- President Bashar al-Assad faces a stayed outside Hama on Tuesday, but how insincere the regime is about dia- “With the Arab League not moving into a democracy. istration, for its part, said the government dilemma over the city of Hama, crushed Syrian forces and gunmen loyal to logue.” and with a nation like Saudi Arabia say- “Heavily armed ‘amn’ (security had had meetings in foreign capitals with by his father a generation ago and now Assad went in and killed 10 people, Assad might hesitate to send the ing nothing publicly to condemn the police) came to Dr Tuma’s clinic and rebel representatives to try to negotiate a slipping beyond his control. activists said. army into Hama for fear of alienating killings by the Syrian regime it is diffi- dragged him away in front of his peace deal. If he lets protesters stay on the Diplomats say how Assad deals with Russia and China, veto-holding mem- cult to see international pressure rising patients,” one of Tuma’s friends told Noman Benotman, an analyst at the streets, he will see his authority ebb Hama could determine the direction of bers of the United Nations Security beyond the economic,” he told Reuters Reuters by phone. British Quilliam thinktank and a friend away, but if he sends tanks into the city Syria’s unrest, at least for the immediate Council which have so far resisted in Amman. Some residents of Hama, scene of a of former Libya spy chief Moussa still scarred by the 1982 massacre, he future. Western efforts to secure UN condem- “Another grand Hama massacre crackdown by Assad’s father nearly 30 Koussa, said he suspected Gaddafi was risks igniting far wider unrest at home Repression nation of Syria. could result in a United Nations resolu- years ago, had sought to halt any mili- ready to step down, under conditions. and deeper isolation abroad. Since the outbreak of protests in Action tion, but is unlikely to contain protec- tary advance by blocking roads between These were that Gaddafi stay in Libya, Between 10,000 and 30,000 people March, the 45-year-old president has tion for the civilian population, with the neighbourhoods with garbage contain- with immunity, and a son have an offi- were killed when Hafez al-Assad combined ruthless repression with a “Even (Syria’s) supporters at the West already engaged in Iraq, ers, burning tyres, wood and metal. cial role in a future Libya. ordered his troops in to defeat insur- series of concessions to demonstrators, Security Council, Russia and China, Afghanistan and Libya.” Tuesday’s raid by security forces and “He strongly wants a son to be part of gents in Hama, and parts of its old city including a promise of national dia- even they might baulk at military action gunmen loyal to Assad followed the in Hama,” the Damascus-based diplo- Dead the future of Libya, representing the were razed to the ground. logue on political reform. killings of at least three people when tribes now supporting the regime,” he Twenty-nine years later Hama The mix of stick and carrot has often mat said. Forces loyal to al-Assad shot dead 10 troops and security police entered Hama said. demonstrators chanting for the over- appeared counter-productive, and But analysts say a leadership increas- people on Tuesday in the Syrian city of at dawn on Monday. “It’s his plan, his insurance policy. He throw of Bashar still curse the memory activists say they cannot hold talks with ingly focused on “regime survival” is Hama, activists said, and France called French Foreign Ministry spokesman believes that if, later, they go through of his father, who died in 2000 after rul- authorities while killings continue unlikely to be swayed by international on the United Nations to adopt a firm Romain Nadal said the world could not elections, he and his family will get pro- ing Syria for three decades. across the country. criticism. stance in the face of “ferocious armed stand by “inactive and powerless” in the tection from the tribes whose support “If tanks go into Hama and crush the “There’s a political track and a secu- Reaction to the unrest in Syria, where repression”. face of the violence. they now have.” protests, Syria will ignite from south to rity track and they don’t seem to be in activists say security forces have shot Tanks were still surrounding Hama, “We are hoping that the Security Saad Djebbar, a former legal advisor north and from east to west,” said Rami synch... Hama is a litmus test,” a diplo- dead more than 1,300 civilians, has days after it witnessed some of the Council adopt a clear and firm position to the Libyan government, said arrest Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian mat in Damascus said. “If the tanks stay been muted compared to the response to biggest protests against Assad’s rule and we call on all the members of the warrants by the International Criminal Observatory for Human Rights. on the outskirts and move away eventu- protests in Libya. since a 14-week uprising erupted in Security Council to take responsibility Court last month for Gaddafi, one of his “The regime will be isolated interna- ally, it would seem that the political While the United States, European March. in light of this dramatic situation with a sons, Saif al-Islam, and his security chief tionally, because Hama has historical track has won the day. Union and other Western nations have The attacks focused on two districts Syrian population subjected day after Abdullah al-Senussi were a big part of symbolism.” “If they continue to stay where they imposed sanctions on Assad and senior north of the Orontes River, which splits day to an unacceptable, ferocious and the backdrop to the combatants’ latest Assad’s forces largely disappeared are, making sorties into the centre of officials, their repeated warnings over the city of 650,000 people in half. implacable armed repression.” manoeuvring. from Hama one month ago after town, then maybe they are drifting back several months that Assad is running Residents said the dead included two activists said at least 60 protesters were to the security solution... So what hap- out of time are beginning to ring hol- brothers, Baha and Khaled al-Nahar, Pressure An immunity deal was possible, he said. killed when security men fired on pens there in the next few days will low. who were killed at a roundabout. French MP Gerard Bapt, head of the “Gaddafi would be a fool not to accept crowds of demonstrators. really be key.” Abdelrahman said the “Bashar interprets the international Troops raided towns to the northwest French-Syrian Friendship Committee, an internationally-binding UN Security The security vacuum — some reports mixed messages from authorities position as one of support for him, of Hama near the border with Turkey in told Reuters: “With the Arab League Council resolution granting him immu- said even traffic police disappeared — reflected genuine divisions at the top. because there are no clear messages Idlib province, and authorities intensi- not moving and with a nation like Saudi nity from the court in return for him giv- emboldened residents and the weekly “There is one wing of the authorities from the international community yet,” fied a campaign of arrests that has Arabia saying nothing publicly to con- ing up power and calling on his people to protests after Friday prayers grew into which wants a military solution in said Lebanese academic Nadim resulted in the detention of at least 500 demn the killings by the Syrian regime abandon arms,” he said. huge gatherings. Hama and one wing which wants a Shehadi. “The international community people across Syria in the last few days, it is difficult to see international pres- To date, the outlook for such a deal Last Friday, video footage showed democratic solution,” he said. is divided over Syria.” rights campaigners said. sure rising beyond the economic.” appears poor. In remarks to Russian tele- tens of thousands of people in the city’s Others said pledges of reform talks “I think Bashar al-Assad thinks he In the eastern provincial capital of France, unlike its European partners vision last week, Saif al-Islam said main square and activists said at least were a smokescreen. has a licence to kill from the interna- Deir al-Zor, security forces arrested and the United States, says Assad has NATO had already offered the govern- 150,000 people attended the rally “They are calling for dialogue... and tional community.” Ahmad Tuma, a former political prison- lost legitimacy to rule. But a French ment an “under the table” deal that demanding Assad’s departure. at the same time the Syrian army is at French parliamentarian Gerard Bapt, er and secretary general of the campaign for UN condemnation of the would see the arrest warrants dropped if The next day Assad sacked the the gates of Hama,” said Rime Allaf, head of the French-Syrian friendship Damascus Declaration, a grouping of crackdown has met stiff Russian and they quit power. provincial governor and tanks appeared associate fellow at Chatham House. committee, said there was also little opposition figures founded in 2005 to Chinese resistance.