King Salman Egypt Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Egipto, país en venta

EL CAIRO – La visita a Egipto, la pasada semana, del rey Salmán de Arabia Saudita se saldó con 22 acuerdos, entre ellos un contrato petrolero por 22 000 millones de dólares, para darle un estímulo a la moribunda economía egipcia. Pero la generosa ayuda no fue gratuita: Egipto tuvo que renunciar a dos islas en el Mar Rojo que le habían sido cedidas por Arabia Saudita en 1950. La transacción reveló que la dirigencia egipcia miente al decir que el país sigue siendo una importante potencia regional. En realidad, Egipto no puede ni siquiera manejar los desafíos internos que le plantea el veloz crecimiento de una población dependiente de subsidios insostenibles, situación que los yihadistas explotan muy bien. ¿Cómo llegó el país a este punto?

Cuando en 1807 Muhammad Ali derrotó a los británicos, Egipto se convirtió en el primer país árabe en obtener la independencia de facto. Pero el nieto de Ali, Ismail, la dilapidó a fuerza de despilfarro, dando inicio a una dependencia de ayudas externas que persiste hasta el día de hoy.

En 1875 Ismail tuvo que vender la participación de Egipto en el Canal de Suez para cubrir el déficit presupuestario. Como resultara insuficiente para detener la hemorragia fiscal, los acreedores europeos crearon una comisión para asegurarse el pago. En 1877, más del 60% de los ingresos de Egipto se usaban para honrar la deuda. En 1882, los británicos tomaron control del país para proteger sus inversiones.

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