Egypt must reform to turn critics into advocates

Politics is not a field dominated only by authoritarian politicians! A great many political influencers play significant roles in shaping their respective governments’ policies, leaving a clear impact on their societies. The United States is the nation that most portrays this type of ruling mechanism in which large numbers of scholars and journalists influence their country’s political decisions. A clear majority of such scholars have not been in agreement with the policies applied by President Al Sisi since his inauguration in May 2014.

I can easily claim that I have been reading most of the articles written on Egypt, particularly by American scholars. Most of these scholars are extremely well informed about economic and political developments in our country – which, for some reason, annoys many Egyptian officials. However, if the State had a better understanding of the American ruling mechanism, it would be more equipped to deal with this dispute. As it is, the Egyptian State has been puzzled by the criticism voiced by these scholars, questioning their novel views, especially since they differ from those of several international financing institutes that are praising our government.

The Egyptian State often counterattacks American scholars’ criticism by casting doubt on their ability to digest what is truly happening in Egypt. A review of each party’s arguments gives the impression that we are discussing two completely different nations. The fact that Egypt is a focal nation means that it draws intensive international attention. In my opinion, this is a clear advantage – if we can manage to deploy international media to highlight the positive aspects of our country.

In a media outlet, reality always conveys a better picture than an opinion piece. The millions of foreigners who visit Egypt learn about us thoroughly. We must therefore work on overcoming our challenges and advancing our achievements, which the world will view favorably. The building of a new bridge will not impress Westerners, who perceive it as a basic government duty. Meanwhile, the tackling of human development challenges in Egypt, an issue that is considered to affect the entire world, is being closely watched – whereas labeling all regime criticizers ‘State enemies’ does not help.

Many of these scholars and journalists used to be more tolerant of former President Mubarak’s ruling mechanism, justifying many of his policies. Thus, our current regime cannot accept the fact that these same people are strong critics of President Al Sisi, especially given the regime’s belief that its performance in all fields is substantially superior to that of the Mubarak regime. Moreover, anyone who does not support the current ruling regime is seen to be either conspiring against our country or a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate.

The point that our government is missing is that we are living in an entirely different era than that of Mubarak. The political dynamics of the Middle East have changed completely. Social media channels have played a radical role in changing people’s perspectives; today, people are better aware of their political surroundings and they value human development over infrastructure expansion. Nonetheless, Egypt is clearly a static nation; believing that it can continue to apply the same policy forever, it will neither adapt to these developments easily nor even be able to work on reducing these waves of criticism.

Egypt needs a government that thinks and acts ahead of its citizens’ needs. Applying some kind of reform will turn our international criticizers into our advocates. We need to learn from our critics by implementing what we determine to be genuine advice. Our tendency for denial won’t help us for long. If our government persists in applying the same policy (which appears to be the case), the rift between the Egyptian State and the international society will widen, impacting Egypt’s already shaky relations with many advanced nations.

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