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August 21, 2014

Egypt 2530: State-building and fighting terrorism

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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Egypt 2530 is how Egyptians refer to a new Egypt, in reference to two popular uprisings, both supported by their armed forces, that of January 25, 2011 and the other of June 30, 2013. Both successfully got rid of two tyrants, one secular, Hosni Mubarak, and the second is an Islamist, Mohamed Morsy.

However, Egypt 2530 is facing two major challenges - but all Egyptians are united in facing them.

One challenge is state-building which includes an urgently needed massive economical development and the second is fighting terrorism, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, financed by Qatar, blessed by the US and armed by MB’s affiliated regimes in Turkey, Libya, Sudan and Gaza.

In the face of a national unemployment rate of 13% and a poverty rate reaching up to 40%, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi announced, only two months since his election, a new waterway to be dug in parallel to the existing Suez Canal.

The new canal will be 72 Km long, 35 of which will be dug afresh with the remaining 37 Km is to expand and deepen the current canal.

The overall cost will be $4 billion, financed exclusively by Egyptians through government issued Granted Investment Certificates, in Egyptian pounds at 12% annual rate of return for those in Egypt and in US dollars or Euro at 3% for those who live abroad.

The GICs will be issued as low as $2 each to encourage young students and low-income Egyptians to participate in this important project.

The new parallel canal will reduce the waiting time vessels spend from 11 to less than three hours, increasing its capacity four folds and thus bolstering revenues.

“As global trade grows and the Egyptian economy develops its sources of hard currency, we have had to think about digging a new canal,” said Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority Mohab Mamish.

A consortium of 37 Egyptian companies will carry out the work, with the armed forces being in overall charge of the project for national security reasons.

Mamish said that the new waterway, part of the Suez Canal Corridor development project aiming at developing 76,000 square Km of land around the canal, would have taken three years to be completed, but it will be finished in one year as per Al-Sisi’s demands.

The 163 Km long Suez Canal, which strategically links the Mediterranean and the Red Seas, is one of Egypt’s main sources of foreign currency. The canal’s revenues could be multiplied from its current $5 billion a year.

Crossing the Suez Canal is not cheap, and for large vessels a two-way voyage costs US$1.25 million. But it is still less costly and requires less fuel and time than the alternative route around the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa.

Moreover the canal project includes massive development plans; the construction of four new seaports, a new industrial zone west of the Gulf of Suez, and a technology valley to host several IT-related projects. Egyptian as well as foreign multinationals will carry this part of the project.

The new canal project will provide one million job opportunities.

In addition, a massive infrastructure project of new roads has started providing another one million jobs.

Other projects of building new cities, developing low income housing, expanding agriculture land, creating free-trade zones, and encouraging small business all will certainly lead to more jobs.

Sisi also took important steps towards achieving economical reforms and social justice.

These include setting limits for minimum and maximum wages, increasing income taxes on the rich, raising gradually cost of fuel and electricity to international levels, increasing subsided goods to the poor in quality and variety and stream lining the system of their delivery using smart cards.

Above all he created a National Investment Fund to spend on national projects apart from the government annual budgets that suffer from both debt repayments and deficits.

For this he met with the country top 500 business people and got their blessings and asked them to donate to the NIF. He set an example by donating half of his monthly salary and half of his family wealth, inherited from his father.

The other main challenge facing Egypt 2530 is a homegrown as well as a cross-border Islamist terrorism.

Sisi told the African Union summit in Equatorial Guinea that the continent must reinforce cooperation to face a "plague" of cross-border terrorist groups.

He took a similar message to Algeria during his first foreign trip since his election in May.

"Egypt, the Gulf countries and now Algeria — Egypt is trying to build a regional alliance to fight Islamic terrorism," University of Khartoum political scientist Safwat Fanous told AFP.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization and broke diplomatic relations with Qatar as a state sponsoring terrorism.

Although fewer, Egypt still suffers from daily terrorist attacks, financed by Qatar, blessed by the US, armed and trained by Egypt’s MB-linked regimes in Turkey, Gaza, Sudan and Libya.

Only in one year more than 1,400 people are dead including civilians, and members of the armed and police forces and at least 15,000 families lost their primary breadwinners. Millions of dollars were lost in burned public buildings including churches, mosques, schools and universities.

In foreign relations Sisi is also trying very hard. Egypt’s relations with Arab and African countries, except Qatar and Tunisia, are ranked good to excellent.

Even with Ethiopia, mediation is under way regarding its Grand Renaissance dam that is under construction.

Egypt has expressed particular fears that the dam project could diminish the supply of the Nile River water on which it is entirely dependent. The 6,000 MW dam will be Africa's largest when completed in 2017.

And within the Middle East, Egypt’s relations are ranked good except with the MB’s affiliated regime in Turkey.

The new chapter in Egypt-Russia relation is encouraging the US to review its hostile attitude towards Egypt 2530. It is a win-win-win situation.

Finally more good news for Egypt 2530: the West has just started to understand that no country can tolerate a secretive multinational organization, in this case the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, to rule the country or to wage terrorist attacks against its citizens, against its Christian minority and against its armed and police forces.

Egyptians are hopeful for a better Egypt. They are also determined that Egypt 2530 will never be another Iraq, a Syria or a Libya.

Dr. Elmasry, an Egyptian-born Canadian, is Professor Emeritus of Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He has written extensively on Egyptian affairs. He can be reached at

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