When the Egyptians in Tahrir Square succeeded in forcing out then-President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, the world thought that Egypt would have the chance to be a shining example of stability in the Arab world. More than two years later that is not the case. Corruption still runs rampant, rolling blackouts are the norm in Cairo, and the country's unemployment rate stands at 13%. President Mohamed Morsi and his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood have not been able to bring much in the way of progress to the country, especially to its economy.
Former Minnesota Rep. Vin Weber says now is the time to invest in and help Egypt find its footing or face the global consequences of instability there. "We [the U.S.] have a strategic relationship with them," he says, "involving security arrangements in the Mediterranean and in the Red Sea and involving the Suez Canal that's tremendously important."
With so much strategic importance Weber says the U.S., and the West, can't afford to let Egypt collapse. In a column on Yahoo! Finance Weber notes that over the last six months, $5 billion in foreign investment has left Egypt. In a letter to President Morsi, E.U. ambassadors to Egypt cited a "deteriorating business environment" and uncertainty in "legal, contractual and policy” issues as key factors in the lack of investment.
For Weber, the International Monetary Fund is key to bringing money back to Egypt. Morsi and his government are in the process of applying for $4.8 billion from the fund. As Weber notes, it "will inevitably include the usual austerity measures but might lack the kinds of protections the private sector needs to stay invested." That, he says, is a mistake.
On the other hand, if a deal for IMF assistance withstood the critical eyes of the international community, and if promised assistance from the U.S. and E.U. governments comes to fruition, "they should be able to attract tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment from companies in Europe, North America, South America." And that corporate investment is what he says is key to stability there.