Skip to content

Egypt’s Military, an Economic Giant, Now in Charge

by Andrew S. Ross

It owns companies that sell everything from fire extinguishers and medical equipment to laptops, televisions, sewing machines, refrigerators, pots and pans, butane gas bottles, bottled water and olive oil.


Its holdings include vast tracts of land, including the Sharm el-Sheikh resort, where ex-President Hosni Mubarak now resides in one of his seaside palaces. Bread from its bakeries has helped head off food riots.


“It’s a business conglomerate, like General Electric,” said Robert Springborg, professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, referring to the Egyptian military. “It’s represented in virtually every sector of the economy.”


So is what’s good for egypt‘s GE good for the country, now that the military is, at least temporarily, in formal control?


In a September 2008 classified cable recently released by WikiLeaks, U.S. Ambassador to egypt Margaret Scobey wrote, “We see the military’s role in the economy as a force that generally stifles free market reform by increasing direct government involvement in the markets.”


The cable noted “the military’s strong influence in egypt‘s economy,” with military-owned companies, often run by retired generals, “particularly active in the water, olive oil, cement, construction, hotel and gasoline industries.”


As for the civilian government’s privatization initiatives – headed by Mubarak‘s son Gamal before he was ousted from his party post – they were viewed “as a threat to (the military’s) economic position, (which) therefore generally opposes economic reforms,” according to the cable.


Springborg, who has written widely on egypt and met with the nation’s military, doubts the military’s increased responsibilities will change that position.


“It’s been steadfastly opposed to liberalization and got rid of everybody in Mubarak‘s government who supported it,” he said.


Among those gone, to Springborg’s consternation, is industry and trade minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid, who was reportedly being investigated last week for alleged corruption, an allegation he has vehemently denied.


“Not only was Rachid known as an honest man, he was one of the best businessmen in the Middle East. He was a key figure in talks with foreign investors,” Springborg said. “I think his removal sends a chilling message to the global business community.”


“Awash with cash”: Reporting on the military is a crime in egypt, and estimates of its share of the Egyptian economy – ranging from 5 to 40 percent – are “absolute guesswork,” Springborg said. “No one has the books on their companies.”


egypt‘s Ministry of Military Production, which has its hand in numerous business pursuits, including building water treatment stations, has 40,000 civilians on the payroll and takes in approximately $345 million a year, according to its head, former Gen. Sayed Meshal.


A reporter for the online publication Slate who interviewed Meshal last year described the ministry’s “lavish headquarters,” with “golden handrails” and “fancy custom-made drink coasters – the place is awash with cash.”


In the interview, Meshal “gleefully” told the reporter that egypt‘s well-known bottled water, Safi, produced by a military factory formerly run by Meshal, was named after his daughter.


Open for investments?: One sector that appears not, as yet, to have caught the military’s business eye is high tech. “They are very low-tech, interested mostly in laser beams and night-vision goggles,” Springborg said.


But high tech has been a source of foreign investment, which egypt could definitely use as it seeks to put its economy back together.


“The new government could pursue a more open economic policy to attract foreign investment,” said an analysis by Stratfor, a geopolitical consultancy in Austin, Texas. In the short term, it would help in “maintaining subsidies as well as fulfilling economic promises, such as a 15 percent increase in public employees’ salaries to ease the current social unrest.”


Perhaps Israel, an emerging high-tech power, along with Silicon Valley, could be interested if the atmosphere were right. After all, it was the 1979 peace treaty with Israel that spurred egypt‘s military-business complex to diversify into more consumer-oriented fields, in part to employ soldiers no longer at war.


Israel is transforming its economy through high tech. egypt has wanted to do the same,” said Keith Watenpaugh, associate professor of modern Islam at UC Davis.


We probably shouldn’t hold our breath for that. And it might be a while before overseas investors in general open their wallets, should the military rulers pursue a more “nationalistic” economic course.


“I don’t think we are going to have neoliberal, Western-style economic reform in egypt,” Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Arab studies at Columbia University, told Time magazine this month. “I think there is going to be a return to some aspect of state-led development so the part of the economy that is controlled by the military may well be reinforced for some time.”


At this point, would Springborg invest in egypt, assuming he had the means? “No, absolutely not,” he replied.


Facebook page:
Tweeting: @andrewsross. E-mail: 
[email protected].


This article appeared on page D – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

View the original article at Global Research

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Posted in Finance & Economics, Internet, Middle East, Politics.

Tagged with , , , .

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.

Support #altnews & keep Dark Politricks alive

Remember I told you over 5 years ago that they would be trying to shut down sites and YouTube channels that are not promoting the "Official" view. Well it's all happening now big time. Peoples Channels get no money from YouTube any more and Google is being fishy with their AdSense giving money for some clicks but not others. The time is here, it's not "Obama's Internet Cut Off Switch" it's "Trumps Sell Everyones Internet Dirty Laundry Garage Sale". This site must be on some list at GCHQ/NSA as my AdSense revenue which I rely on has gone down by a third. Either people are not helping out by visiting sponsors sanymore or I am being blackballed like many YouTube sites.

It's not just Google/YouTube defunding altenative chanels (mine was shut), but Facebook is also removing content, shutting pages, profiles and groups and removing funds from #altnews that way as well. I was recently kicked off FB and had a page "unpublished" with no reason given. If you don't know already all Facebooks Private Messages and Secret Groups are still analysed and checked for words related to drugs, sex, war etc against their own TOS. Personally I know there are undercover Irish police moving from group to group cloning peoples accounts and getting people booted. Worse than that I know some people in prison now for the content they had on their "secret private group". Use Telegrams secret chat mode to chat on, or if you prefer Wickr. If you really need to, buy a dumb phone with nothing for the NSA/GCHQ to hack into. Ensure it has no GPS tracking on it and that the battery can be removed. These are usually built for old people to get used to technology storing only a set of numbers to call. However they have no games, applications to install or other ways people can exploit the computer tracking device you carry round with you most of the day - your smart phone. If you are paranoid ensure that you can remove the battery when travelling around and do so to prevent GPS tracking or phone mast triangulation. Even with your phone in Flight mode or turned off, it can be turned on remotely and any features like front or back cameras, microphones and keylogging software can be installed to trace you.

So if your not supporting this site already which brings you news from the Left to the Right (really the same war mongering rubbish) then I could REALLY do with some..

Even if it's just £5 or tick the monthly subscription box and throw a few pound my way each month, it will be much appreciated. Read on to find out why.


Any support to keep this site would be appreciated. You could set up a monthly subscription for £2 like some people do or you could pay a one off donation as a gift.
I am not asking you to pay me for other people's articles, this is a clearing house as well as place to put my own views out into the world. I am asking for help to write more articles like my recent false flag gas attack to get WWIII started in Syria, and Trump away from Putin. Hopefully a few missiles won't mean a WikiLeaks release of that infamous video Trump apparently made in a Russian bedroom with Prostitutes. Also please note that this article was written just an hour after the papers came out, and I always come back and update them.

If you want to read JUST my own articles then use the top menu I have written hundreds of articles for this site and I host numerous amounts of material that has seen me the victim of hacks, DOS plus I have been kicked off multiple hosting companies, free blogging sites, and I have even had threats to cease and desist from the US armed forces. Therefore I have to pay for my own server which is NOT cheap. The more people who read these article on this site the more it costs me so some support would be much appreciated.

I have backups of removed reports shown, then taken down after pressure, that show collusion between nations and the media. I have the full redacted 28/29 pages from the 9.11 commission on the site which seems to have been forgotten about as we help Saudi Arabia bomb Yemeni kids hiding in the rubble with white phosphorus, an illegal weaapon. One that the Israeli's even used when they bombed the UN compound in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. We complain about Syrian troops (US Controlled ISIS) using chemical weapons to kill "beautiful babies". I suppose all those babies we kill in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria are just not beautiful enough for Trumps beautiful baby ratio. Plus we kill about 100 times as many as ISIS or the Syrian army have managed by a factor of about 1000 to 1.

I also have a backup of the FOX News series that looked into Israeli connections to 9.11. Obviously FOX removed that as soon as AIPAC, ADL and the rest of the Hasbra brigade protested.

I also have a copy of the the original Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill which was quickly and quietly removed from their site once they enacted and replaced with some watered down rubbish instead once they got into power. No change to police tactics, protesting or our unfair extradition treaty with the USA but we did get a stop to being clamped on private land instead of the mny great ideas in the original.

So ANY support to keep this site running would be much appreciated! I don't have much money after leaving my job and it is a choice between shutting the server or selling the domain or paying a lot of money just so I can show this material.

Material like the FSB Bombings that put Putin in power or the Google no 1 spot when you search for protecting yourself from UK Police with "how to give a no comment interview". If you see any adverts that interest you then please visit them as it helps me without you even needing to give me any money. A few clicks per visit is all it takes to help keep the servers running and tag any tweets with alternative news from the mainstream with the #altnews hashtag I created to keep it alive!

However if you don't want to use the very obvious and cost free ways (to you) to help the site and keep me writing for it then please consider making a small donation. Especially if you have a few quid sitting in your PayPal account doing nothing useful. Why not do a monthly subscription for less money instead. Will you really notice £5 a month?