Welcome to the Middle East Today

The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Jan 14, 2017

Corruption

Corruption is considered to be a global universal cultural trait. The United Nations Transparency International estimated the global corruption to the public at $1.4 Trillion per year. The Middle East and North African countries share was estimated at $400 billion per year.
            Egypt is ranked at the Transparency Scale 68 out of the 168 countries.
I am not surprised at such ranking. The Egyptian press almost on a daily basis refers to corruption cases in both the public and the private sectors. Unfortunately, corruption takes place at all government levels. Former president Mubarak, his two sons and a group of corrupted high government officials  are well known to the public, which is known as the Swiss Banks Frozen Funds which exceeds one billion Euros.
            Another classic example is the latest and big corruption scandal committed by two high rank government officials. One committed suicide while in jail and the other, Gamal Al Laban, whose large amount of money found in his house was confiscated by the government.  It was estimated at 24 million Egyptian pounds, 4 million USD, 2 million Euros, and 1 million Saudi riyal. Such large amount of money is collected as bribes through government contracts.
            Recently, the minister of interior issued the yearly report on corruption. The report revealed that the number of crimes committed during the year 2016 was 1400 criminal corruption cases. The criminals are being prosecuted for financial bribes and other administrative crimes.
            Such crimes increased by 61% during 2016 by comparison to 2015 according to the report. Furthermore, another report by the “Partnership Association Transparency”  revealed that 51 cases of corruption were committed by government officials during the month of December 2016.
            The daily cases reported by the Egyptian press regarding corruptions  reflects that the legal system is not adequate enough to discourage such illegal acts. Strong legal indictments, even death, should be implementable. Such harsh penalty might not stop corruption totally, but it will decrease it.

Jan 8, 2017

Special Government Departmental Funds

Recently the Treasury Department sent a report to the Egyptian parliament regarding the special financial boxes. During the past few years, there has been so much talk in public about public officials misusing that fund. The money in such boxes is not part of the yearly government budget. The report sent to parliament estimated the money at 52 billion Egyptian pounds in 7,282 special boxes. The best and most effective policy for such funds is to close such boxes and allocate the 52 billion pounds to build badly needed schools all over Egypt.
According to the Ministry of Education, there are over 47,000 schools in Egypt, and many are unfit as a place for learning. Furthermore, he stated that Egypt needs to create more than 50,000 new classrooms to cut the number of students per classroom by half. He said that the number of students at present per classroom exceeds 140 students. Such a situation will lead to poor education and an increase in the illiteracy rates. There are hundreds of villages with no schools. I have seen some schools with no roofs, windows, or even chairs for students to sit on.
            No society will progress economically and socially without a progressive education system which should be available for every person. The situation of the educational system at the lower level reflects a disgrace for the society at large due to the meager government budget allocated to education.
Special Government Departmental Funds

Recently the Treasury Department sent a report to the Egyptian parliament regarding the special financial boxes. During the past few years, there has been so much talk in public about public officials misusing that fund. The money in such boxes is not part of the yearly government budget. The report sent to parliament estimated the money at 52 billion Egyptian pounds in 7,282 special boxes. The best and most effective policy for such funds is to close such boxes and allocate the 52 billion pounds to build badly needed schools all over Egypt.
According to the Ministry of Education, there are over 47,000 schools in Egypt, and many are unfit as a place for learning. Furthermore, he stated that Egypt needs to create more than 50,000 new classrooms to cut the number of students per classroom by half. He said that the number of students at present per classroom exceeds 140 students. Such a situation will lead to poor education and an increase in the illiteracy rates. There are hundreds of villages with no schools. I have seen some schools with no roofs, windows, or even chairs for students to sit on.
            No society will progress economically and socially without a progressive education system which should be available for every person. The situation of the educational system at the lower level reflects a disgrace for the society at large due to the meager government budget allocated to education.

Foreign Political Interference

During the past few months, prior to the election of the United States president, the mass media was focusing on Russian interference in the American election. The Los Angeles Times reported (1/17/2017) that president Obama slapped Russia for meddling in the United States presidential election. He ordered dozens of Russian diplomats to leave the United States.
            It is of interest to notice that what the Russians have done was not unusual by comparison to what the United States has been doing for many years. The United States has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in many countries. According to database amassed by D. Levin of the Carnegie Mellon University, the United States interfered 81 times in the presidential election of foreign countries between 1946 and 2000.
            In my judgment, such political interference by the United States government is still going on. I have witnessed the American interference in the presidential election in Egypt during 2013. The United States was supporting Dr. Mursi who was the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, against General Shafik. According to the Egyptian press, the United State ambassador, A. Peterson, called Shafik and told him he was not the winner. The result of the election was delayed several days. At the end, Mursi was declared as the elected president. Nevertheless, most Egyptians were aware that Shafik was the winner.