That’s the message from the government of President Mohammad Mursi when, faced with the reality that they cannot afford to buy enough food to feed everyone in a country with 40% unemployment, they tell Egyptians to shut up and eat less:
“Even Islamists have to eat,” I wrote under the headline “Food and Failed Arab States” in February 2011. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government takes a different view, the Washington Post reported yesterday. The trouble, the government says, is that Egyptians are eating too much. In a separate report, the government proposed to cut back its bread subsidy to three hand-sized loaves of pita bread per person per day, about 400 calories’ worth. A state that can’t feed its people is a failed state, and that’s why the Egyptian state is at the brink of collapse, as Egypt’s defense minister warned last week.
According to the Post report, the government is telling Egyptians (almost half of whom live on less than $2 a day) to eat less. You can’t make this sort of thing up. Egypt lost another $1.4 billion in foreign exchange reserves in January, and probably is flat broke after figuring in arrears to oil and food suppliers, and it imports half its food, so something had to give. In response, Egypt’s Islamist government is emulating North Korea’s approach to food shortages..”
Read the rest: Egypt is a mass famine just waiting to happen. Though the Islamist government owns the response to the crisis, the problem isn’t of their making; Egyptian governments have long subsidized the price of basic commodities, trying, as authoritarian regimes the world over have tried, to buy social peace by shielding consumers from the real prices of necessities like food and fuel. When the inevitable happens and the government can no longer afford to maintain those subsidies, thus leading to massive price increases, you get social disorder and, in Egypt’s case, a likely failing state.
Given Egypt’s love of conspiracy theories, don’t be surprised if the government plays the “blame the Jews” card and the people buy it.
Good thing Team Smart Power is carrying out on its promise to sell F-16s and Abrams tanks to a Jew-hating, Islamist government that just might want a nice distraction.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)