The majority Sunni Islamic nation of 82 million people, Egypt is precariously situated surrounded as it is by al-Qaeda linked Sunni neo-Islamists (Ansar Beyt al-Maqdis, Islamic State) threatening from both the Sinai Peninsula (all the way up into Gaza) and Libya, and Shiite-affiliated militants to the south (North Sudan) and across the Red Sea (Yemen). The current El Sisi regime is anti-Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt has historically (and presently) a large state military involvement in domestic politics and since the overthrow of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Morsi government, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is essentially running the nation’s economy and polity. A 450,000-strong active military personnel is the largest in Africa and can expect to be supported by the Sunni Arab Gulf nations.
Energy security is a major issue with frequent power shortages especially in and around Cairo. A number of mega-infrastructure projects have gained support from Gulf-Arab nation investment and include the expansion of Suez canal, the most direct shipping route between Europe and Asia — current annual $5 Billion revenue, and the construction of desert-cities, in particular the new capital to be built east of Cairo.
Neo-liberal businessmen came into their own under the Mubarak regime while the present government looks to reduce the budget deficit and the high (100%) debt-to-GDP ratio — near-term changes include: fuel and electricity subsidy cuts; new taxes on property and capital gains; welfare cuts. The Lower Nile (Nile delta region) is north Africa’s breadbasket.
- Political Map of Egypt
- Egypt and Israel: United in a common cause?
- The Egyptian army’s growing economic empire