by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 1, Sha'ban, 1444)
Three leading Muslim countries—Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan—have great potential but they are far from realizing it. Instead, they are struggling to survive. All three have hard-working peoples; some of them are also highly educated. In the past much hope was reposed in them. So, what has gone wrong?
They have been plagued by overbearing militaries although Turkey has managed to free itself of such domination. It would, however, be wrong to assume that the military no longer plays a major role in Turkish decision-making. One only has to consider Turkey’s continuous membership in the US-led military alliance—NATO—and its close ties with zionist Israel to understand the military’s influence. The vast majority of Turkish people who are good Muslims, are very uneasy about such relations with the zionist entity.
There are great similarities between Egypt and Pakistan. Both are under military rule, one directly and the other indirectly. Their interference in every aspect of state policy has crushed their respective economies. Egypt, like Pakistan, can only be described as a lost cause. The Egyptian generals are a greedy bunch who do not care for the well-being of the people.
Dependent on Russia and Ukraine for 85% of grain imports, Egypt has been badly affected by disruption of grain shipments once war broke out in Ukraine a year ago. Bread prices have skyrocketed in Egypt. Being the staple diet of Egyptians, many people are literally on the verge of starvation. The potato-faced thug, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who rules Egypt with an iron-fist, had the gall to tell people to eat tree leaves if they can’t afford bread. Sisi and his coterie of generals, of course, do not follow this advice.
The Egyptian people are suffering because of the greed and incompetence of Sisi and his henchmen who have become billionaires. Sisi’s net worth is estimated to be $2.5 billion. With his annual salary officially at $72,000, there is no legitimate reason for acquiring such wealth. This is clearly theft at a grand scale.
A year ago (March 2022) Sisi turned to the IMF for the third time in six years begging for another loan. IMF loans, however, come with stiff conditions: end food and fuel subsidies. These affect mostly the poor people.
Corruption is rampant and traditional donors like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are no longer willing to cough up the money to pour into a bottom-less pit that is Egypt. At least one-third of Egypt’s 102 million people live below the poverty line. Many people are forced to live in graveyards because of lack of housing.
Amid a growing economic crisis making life miserable for ordinary people, there is not even a hint that el-Sisi would cut down on his grandiose projects like building a new capital city that has cost $55 billion already. The generals are siphoning off billions out of the new capital city project.
This situation is not dissimilar to Pakistan. The military in Pakistan is running more than 50 commercial enterprises from cement, housing schemes to even breakfast cereal. When generals become accustomed to easy money, they lose the will to fight. Not surprisingly, the Pakistani generals are terrified of fighting arch-rival India which continues to violently suppress the Kashmiri people. And they would not allow any reduction in the huge military budget that has stymied Pakistan’s development for decades.
Like their Egyptian counterparts, the Pakistani generals too dictate to civilians how to run the affairs of state. If in Egypt, the generals have grabbed power directly, in Pakistan, the men in khaki indulge in political engineering, making and breaking political parties to suit their whims. Judges, media personnel and bureaucrats are all forced to dance to their tune. Those that dare to defy them are mercilessly tortured and, in some cases, brutally murdered. Journalist Arshad Sharif is a ready example, who was murdered in cold blood in Kenya last October.
The generals and their handpicked toady politicians have reduced Pakistan to penury. It is on life support. The IMF bailout package, if granted, can at best provide a few months’ relief but cannot save Pakistan’s economy. Even the IMF managing director, Kristalina Georgieva had to point out that the rich (high earners) in Pakistan must pay more taxes. This is not rocket science. Far from accepting this absolutely essential proposal if Pakistan is to survive, the generals—and bureaucrats and judges—refuse to give up even their perks, much less pay their fair share of taxes.
This brings us to Turkey that recently suffered a massive earthquake with the loss of some 50,000 lives. Tens of thousands of people have been injured. At least 180,000 people are still unaccounted for and sadly, must be presumed dead. Already suffering badly, the Turkish economy has suffered another blow with the loss of $84 billion due to earthquake damage.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vexes eloquent but his erratic policies have caused irreparable damage to Turkey’s prestige and economy. Ankara’s involvement in the western-zionist-Saudi-instigated war against Syria has been an unmitigated disaster. Apart from killing some 500,000 Syrians, Turkey has achieved nothing. Instead, its army continues to occupy large swathes of Syrian territory along with American forces that are illegally in Syria.
When he first came to power, Erdogan had aroused much hope among Muslims worldwide. His soaring rhetoric mesmerized people. With time, however, it became clear that he was also a typical politician, all talk and no action. He continues to speak from both sides of his mouth on Palestine while maintaining close ties with the zionists. One can hardly find a better definition of hypocrisy.
It is truly sad that the three countries that have so much potential should be teetering on the brink because of the erratic policies of the militaries in two countries (Egypt and Pakistan) and the duplicity of the president (Erdogan) in the third. Pity the people that have to pay the price for such folly.