News / Middle East

Arab Spring Not Enough to Blunt Corruption

This video image taken from Egyptian State Television shows the sons of Hosni Mubarak, Alaa Mubarak, left and Gamal Mubarak as they stand inside the cage of mesh and iron bars in a Cairo courtroom Wednesday Aug. 3, 2011 as his historic trial began on c
This video image taken from Egyptian State Television shows the sons of Hosni Mubarak, Alaa Mubarak, left and Gamal Mubarak as they stand inside the cage of mesh and iron bars in a Cairo courtroom Wednesday Aug. 3, 2011 as his historic trial began on c
Rebecca Collard
For many Egyptians, Hussien Salem is a symbol of everything wrong with their old regime.

A close friend of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the businessman-turned-fugitive allegedly made millions off favorable deals thanks to his connections with the former regime. He now sits under house arrest in Spain, likely to be tried in absentia if Egypt’s request for extradition isn’t granted.

It was inequities like this special brand of crony capitalism that motivated many to take to the streets in 2011 asking for “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice”.

Transparency Corruption Index 2012Transparency Corruption Index 2012
x
Transparency Corruption Index 2012
Transparency Corruption Index 2012
Political and economic corruption was a key grievance for Arab Spring protestors, but overthrowing their long time leaders  has not been enough for them to gain faith in their new governments that continue to struggle with the former economic systems.

Despite ending three decades of Mubarak’s rule, according to a report released today by Transparency International, many in Egypt still perceive the country as corrupt. The same can be said for Tunisia, Libya and Yemen.

Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index ranks 176 countries and territories based on interviews with businessmen, local and foreign investors and others who interact with the public sector. Most of the Arab Spring states still rank in the bottom half.

Moammar Gadhafi, who ruled Libya for over 40 years, was legendary for misallocating public resources and spending significant oil revenues on buying weapons and sponsoring rebels groups aboard. The uprising overthrew the Gadhafi regime and cost thousands of lives, but left Libya remains near the bottom of the index at 160 out of 176 states.

While it’s a slight improvement from last year, Arwa Hassan, Transparency International’s Middle East and North Africa outreach manager, said Libya is not alone.  Few Arab countries saw significant improvement.

“The general trend is that some countries have improved slightly, but some have deteriorated significantly,” Hassan said. “It does give an indication that there are still serious problems and lots of work needs to be done.”

Transparency International, Middle East and North Africa regionTransparency International, Middle East and North Africa region
x
Transparency International, Middle East and North Africa region
Transparency International, Middle East and North Africa region
Tunisia dropped slightly after being the first country to oust their leader in what became the Arab Spring. Bahrain also dropped just slightly from 48 in 2010 to 53 this year after failing to achieve significant changes through their months of continued crackdown on anti-government protests.

Egypt dropped significantly—from 98 in 2010 to 118 in 2012.

Hassan said that while this may seem disappointing, it could be the post-uprising changes are slow to happen in the Arab world.

“One would expect to see some kind of improvement but it can take a while before changes take effect,”  Hassan said. “What will be very interesting will be next year[‘s] index and then we will really see if there are changes.”

Today the gap between the rich and poor in the Arab world remains wide.

In Egypt, international institutions like the World Bank are warning of a possible continued economic downturn.

Magda Kandil, executive director of the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies, said the lack of government regulation in Egypt allowed corruption to prevail and the fruits of growth to fall into the hands of a few.

“The economy at large was growing, but it was not trickling down,"  Kandil said of the Mubarak era.  She said  it was because of this endemic "crony capitalism" that liberalization policies had such destructive effects in the country.

But some in Egypt say the situation has actually worsened and the laws that benefited connected businessmen like  Salem, and allowed regular Egyptians to be extorted by officials, are being used by new leaders.

A key problem, said Mohamed El-Sawy, head of the Anti-Corruption Task Force at the Egyptian Junior Business Association, are laws that govern licensing and procurement are conflicting and unclear. He said there will often be several conflicting laws that govern even a single  transaction.

“For example, once an investor was building a mall,” he said. “First he was told you need one story of parking. He goes back and another clerk says ‘A whole story of park? That is too much.’ He goes again and third clerk says, ‘No, you should have no parking’ and they are all legal.”

The  culture of bribes is strong in Egypt and  extortion is easier when laws are unclear as government reform lags.  “The current regime is taking advantage of Mubarak’s system to take more power,” El-Sawy said.

The tracks of land sold off below market value to connected businessmen like Salem became sources of revenue for the rich rather than a breadbasket for Egypt’s poor.

“We need checks and balances,” El-Sawy said. “We need to take a step back and design a five to 10-year plan."

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More