In our New Year’s predictions we offered the following:
Food riots will again occur throughout the world; in 2013 though no one will label them part of “The Arab Spring.”
Our thought was that by summer we would see food riots in the Middle East. We may have to adjust our timetable somewhat: from the Elwatan News:
Admitted the Ministry of Supply high prices of commodities during the last period, and a report issued by the ministry entitled “Bulletin commodity prices” for prices beans right of 5 to 6 pounds per kilo and a pack of margarine from 11 pounds and 84 pounds to 12 pounds and 82 pounds and meat Alkndoz of 57 to 62 pounds per kilo and Buffalo from 58 to 60 pounds, and beef from 58 to 59 pounds and veal from 64 to 65 pounds and the beauty of the 44 to 48 pounds and frozen meat from 32.50 to 35.50 pounds. The report pointed out that the price of fish has seen a remarkable increase, rising kilo of tilapia 12.50 pounds to 15 pounds and mullet from 21.50 to 23 pounds and sardines from 11 to 12 pounds and frozen from 11.50 to 14 pounds, and white cheese from 21 to 21, 50 pounds, and report emphasized low prices of some commodities such as lentils, milk and oil. The report attributed the rise in commodity prices to the absence of political and economic stability in the country which in turn affected the societal stability. The report also said instructions to citizens on the terms of meals, including that of food and way of life and not an end, and on the individual that knows what eats and why eating and malnutrition can occur from lack of food or excessive when and balanced diet is commensurate with the real needs of the people by Age, weight and physical activity daily for humans.
Which is Google’s rather obscure translation.
But reading between the lines is easy enough – the Egyptian government is telling its people not to “over eat.” Because a.) there is an insufficient food supply, and b.) the average Egyptian can’t much afford the food that is available.
The Egyptian Gazette couched the problem rather more plainly:
Significantly, the 2011 uprising was underpinned by the purely Egyptian slogan: “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice.” In short, bread means a lot for the majority of Egyptians. To have it is to live.
Therefore, the Government sent shockwaves across the nation when, days before the second anniversary of the revolt, one of the Cabinet ministers disclosed a plan to offer every Egyptian just three loaves of the baladi (round) bread every day at the state-subsidised price.
The people who want to get more bread will have to buy the staple commodity at the market value, which is five times higher than the subsidised price per loaf.
The controversial rationing is part of an ambitious plan to phase out state subsidies on certain commodities, so as to reduce an unsustainable budget deficit. It is also believed to be part of a package of austerity measures that Egypt has to adopt before getting a $ 4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Not to put too fine a point on it but within a year Egypt, as we currently understand it, may not exist.
Egypt is staring into the hungry eyes of famine. This is not in response to the normal precursors: natural disasters like floods, drought, volcanic eruptions or a plague of crickets. No, this famine will be entirely man-made due to the Egyptian government’s poor management of available resources and responses (or lack thereof) to the societal upheaval of the past year.
Egypt is the Greece of Africa, but without deep-pocketed Germany willing to bail it out. So the county may well spend this year slowly starving.