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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora