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Egyptian leaders tried to use the Suez Canal to clear ships

Two months after the expulsion of the country’s first elected leader, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi made a pilgrimage to the Suez Canal.

At the heavy patriotism groundbreaking ceremony, the former general announced a large-scale project in August 2014. He stated that he would initiate the revival of Egypt after the chaos of the Arab Spring: 120 miles of the US$8 billion expansion of waterways, still It is one of the most powerful symbols of Egyptian national identity.

Sisi said: “We must take action and take strong action to get rid of the poverty we are in.”


Seven years later, this revival has hardly materialized. Although the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has improved, nearly one-third of Egypt’s 100 million people live on less than US$2 a day, and income inequality has never been so high.

Therefore, when Egyptian authorities and international experts evacuated a 200,000-ton carrier Ever Ever earlier this week that blocked the Suez Canal for six days, it not only meant the reopening of a vital international transportation artery. For Sisi and his government, this is an opportunity to demand a rare victory and improve the qualifications of leaders often accused of nepotism and misconduct.

Within 24 hours after Ever Ever disappeared, Sisi once again returned to the iconic canal, once again rang the drums of nationalism, and tried to gather his compatriots behind him.

He said of the crisis: “This is a blessing in disguise.” “This incident shows that the Suez Canal is capable, enduring and very, very competitive.”

On March 23, the colossus of Ever Given was three times the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza and was stranded. The two ends were stranded on opposite banks, completely blocking the waterway that handles one-tenth of the world’s shipping. Lieutenant General Osama Rabbi, director of the State Suez Canal Administration, said that the Egyptian government suffered about $1 billion in losses due to the blockade, causing traffic jams on hundreds of ships.

The expulsion of the ship was of milestone significance: under the strict supervision of the international community, tugboats, dredgers and crews transferred water and mud from more than 10 Olympic-sized pools in 24-hour shifts. The rising tide provided a key help to free “Farewell to Giving Up” from the bank.

Pro-government media have taken actions to amplify Sisi’s message of achievements led by Egypt and reaffirm the country’s international status. On Twitter, supporters and government-run bots posted the hashtag #Thank_You_Sisi.

“Every Egyptian living in Egypt and abroad, after the Suez crisis broke out, their hearts will not dance happily. They should ask themselves, their humanity and their Egyptianness,” artist Mohamed Mawson (Mohamed Mohsen) tweeted to his nearly 700,000 followers. “Moments like this make us love our country more and more, and it is these that let us know who hates it.”

Software developer Kareem Farid said on Twitter that the crisis showed that “there is no other choice but all of us behind the president. … After seven years of bashing the Suez Canal and Sisi projects , Thank God, everyone has now discovered their importance.”

Hafsa Halawa, an Egyptian-British scholar at the Middle East Institute, said that the downpour-some ordered by the government, some not by the government-showed that “essentially it is the essence of Egyptian nationalism.”

“Egyptian exceptionalism, Egypt’s historical importance as a country in Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East, this is Umm Al Dunya“, she said, using the country’s Egyptian descriptor to mean “the mother of the world.”

“The government thrives on things like that full with Taamiyah“, Halawa added, referring to the extremely popular local versions of broad beans and falafel.

When an Egyptian crew member of a dredger released the videotape within a few hours of helping to release Ever Ever, it became all the rage, and people all over the country and the world cheered for it.

An activist and a person who is often criticized by the government said that the public’s exhilaration of Ever Ever’s release is real for safety reasons, and he wrote a blog in the name of the “Great Pharaoh”.

The blogger said in an interview that Sisi had used it to distract from the fact that his bet to expand the Suez Canal in 2014 has not yet been paid off. This expansion is planned to be completed in 2015, and its revenue will increase to 13.2 billion U.S. dollars by 2023, more than double the level before 2015. On the contrary, they remain at the level of approximately US$5.7 billion, which will drop to US$5.16 billion in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The blogger said: “We know that the huge promise of 2015 has not been fulfilled.”

At the same time, the daily life of Egyptians has become more difficult since 2016, when Sisi issued its own currency on the international market, cut subsidies, and imposed a value-added tax-a move that earned him the international currency Complimented by the International Monetary Fund and other foreign financial institutions, but begging many people at home.

People cannot buy products that they bought years ago. If you ask 10 Egyptians whether their living conditions this year are better than they were 10 years ago, they will definitely refuse. “The blogger said.

Even the enthusiastic Sisi critic admitted that he focused government spending on much-needed infrastructure renovations. Timothy Kaldas, an Egyptian analyst at the Tahrir Middle East Policy Institute in Barcelona, ​​said that the beneficiaries of this expenditure are the military and Sisi’s relatives.

Caldas said: “In recent years, the government’s support has caused the most damage, and because its well-known political elites are still using large infrastructure projects to make money, all this has gotten worse.” It’s not that Suez was distracted by his failure to invest in infrastructure. It is precisely because infrastructure has distracted his failure to invest in people and to improve people’s living standards.”

The canal connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea has long been of special importance to the Egyptians. By the time the construction was completed in 1869, thousands of Egyptian farmers had spent 10 years of hard work, many of whom were killed in the process.

In 1956, the charismatic leader of the then president, Gamal Abdel Nasser (Gamal Abdel Nasser) defied Britain and France and nationalized the canal. This angered the three parties, but Egypt’s former colonial supervision and Israel worked together to seize control of the waterways.

As it succeeded in the recent Suez crisis, Sisi faced other challenges at home and abroad. In the same week that Ever Ever was killed, two trains collided in Sohag province in central Egypt, killing about 19 people. Egypt is also one of the countries with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths among all Arab countries.

Abroad, Sisi is facing increasingly strict human rights scrutiny by President Biden, which is in stark contrast to former President Trump, who called Sisi his “favorite dictator.”

Then there is the brewing battle of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a large-scale Ethiopian project on the Nile River, which is regarded as a strategic threat by both Sudan and Egypt. In his celebration speech on the Suez Canal, Sisi used his strong patriotism to issue the most severe warning to Ethiopia.

He said: “No one can take a drop of water from Egypt. Anyone who wants to try can try.” “No one believes that they are beyond our ability.”

It remains to be seen whether any political stimulus gained from the release of “eternal freedom” will continue.

The blogger said: “This is a proud time for the Egyptians. They succeeded in making a move that is universally recognized.” “But there is one thing to be aware of. This is why this particular situation causes all these joys. This is because We did not succeed in Egypt.”

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