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A Purge Too Far?

The economic consequences of ‘de-Baathification’ in Egypt.

Apr 4, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 28 • By DAVID SCHENKER
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Despite anticipated rollbacks in economic reforms, the international community needs to provide urgent assistance. Renegotiating Egypt’s foreign debt and providing the state with an advance on the seized assets of Mubarak regime officials would be a good place to start.

For its part, to meet profound economic challenges at home, Cairo will need to assemble an economic brain trust, just as the former regime did in 2004. Not only will the new team have to be squeaky clean, it will also have to be up to the task, no mean feat in a state that the 2010 U.N. Human Development Report said turns out locally educated workers with degrees of “limited value.”

With the Mubarak regime vanquished, it’s time for Egyptians to get to work on rebuilding their state, an undertaking that will require deploying all the human capital the state can muster. To ensure high standards of transparency in this process, those deemed corrupt at home must be weeded out. Weeding, though, is the proper metaphor. Amidst the enthusiasm to rid the state of the former regime, Egyptians will have to take care not to uproot also the productive parts of their economy.

David Schenker is director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and author of a soon-to-be-published study on Egypt after Mubarak.

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