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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.