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US politics helped induce Egyptian Upheaval

Reader comment on item: Fixing Egypt's Economy: No More Military Macaroni

Submitted by Dr. Matania Ginosar (United States), Jul 30, 2013 at 22:29

I believe that the desire for Democracy and personal freedom are NOT the main forces behind the Egyptian upheaval.

It is the Economy!

If the majority had a decent standard of living, they would not rush to destroy it. When people are hungry, they are desperate and will overcome their fear of dictators. That is how it all started in the Arab world. And it will be extremely difficult for any Egyptian leadership to correct this serious economic problem that the US plays a significant part in.

Today's agony is a product of this long neglect, personal glory, and militarism, of all their leaders- except Sadat. Mubarak started to improve the economy in the last decade, but there has been little anyone can do when you have Muslim's induced combination of high birthrate, no women's freedom to resist it, and thus tripling of the population in a half century from 28 to 84 millions. Also, with no increase of arable land, just 4% of Egypt, and no other natural resources. Also, religious- based education-prevented modernization of the economy and having some degree of freedom. Tourism was an important economic resource, which disappeared with their recent revolutions. These very tough facts are incredibly hard to break, and the dominating military, which lived lavishly off the people, has little interest to change.

Half of the 84 million Egyptians live on 2 dollars a day and one dollar is spent for basic food. The main source of Egyptian calories comes from imported wheat and corn. The US is the world largest exporter of corn, 50 million metric tons a year. Corn is the single largest agricultural product in the US = $66 Billion a year- we control the global market. The price of our corn influences the price of most foods in the world. Since the US Congress dictated using corn-ethanol in our gasoline, we are using 40 % of our corn to produce corn-ethanol, thus driving up the global price of corn. Corn prices increased 87 percent between 2003 and 2007.

Originally, corn-ethanol was supposed to both reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reduce our emission of global warming gases. However, corn-ethanol, contrarily to this belief propagated by the gigantic US corn producers and environmentalists, actually accelerates global warming, is heavily subsidized by the US, and has not reduce our dependence on foreign oil. This artificial demand of this essential food for industrial use, increased world corn prices in 2011 by additional 35% to some $300 per metric ton. This aggravated the poverty of at least half of the Egyptian population. That is when the average Egyptian started to scream…and took to the streets.

While the Egyptian population tripled to 84 millions now, the consumption of wheat and corn increased 6 times. It cost $10 billion a year for Egypt to buy foreign wheat and corn, and it does not have the money.

They cannot increase their agricultural production sufficiently to compensate. There is no rain and the Nile (controlled by other nations) is their only source of water.

Again: Egypt depends heavily on external food supply, which fluctuates with world demand; the largest demand in the world is the US mandatory use of corn–ethanol.

In summary: the desire for high profit by US mega corn corporations, Monsanto, ADM, Cargill, coupled by their ability to powerfully influence Congress has driven the poor Egyptian to rebel against the dictatorship of Mubarak, and Morsi, who also could do little to reduce the price of food.

And that is why I believe that US politics helped induce the Egyptian upheaval.

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