The Egyptian Central bank devalued the Egyptian pound on 3rd of November and Egypt is readjusting to a period of austerity (Mada Masr, 03.11.2016). The pound devaluation is a move that had been touted for months and is likely to have taken so long, and been done so reluctantly, due to the potential pressure it could exert on the government over the short term. A previous devaluation took place in March 2016 and the value of the pound to the U.S. dollar has now dropped from EGP 7.8 to EGP 18.2 within the 11 months since January 1st 2016.

While in the long term this move is aimed at stabilising the economy and pulling Egypt out of financial trouble, it will have a negative impact on the working and middle class population over the coming months. Imports will become costlier and certain products may now be unavailable/too expensive to afford.

Egyptians have already expressed their outrage at shortages of sugar and coffee and there is an uneasy atmosphere between authorities and the populace (The Guardian, 25.10.2016). Egypt has now implemented a VAT, devalued the pound, and also cut subsidies across various sectors, notably fuel, to finally receive an IMF loan.

The effect of this monetary policy is likely to provoke further outrage but Sisi has reiterated that the state will ensure people do not go without. The military may move to ease some of the pressure on citizens, having already done so by distributing food boxes to the needy. The military’s capacity to alleviate the lack of resources across a variety of industries illustrates that it is a huge benefactor of resource distribution in Egypt’s deep state. Essentially, the central government is growing more reliant on powerful domestic actors to perform services it simply cannot.

Protests were called for 11th of November, dubbed Thawrat el-Ghalaba (Revolution of the Poor), and the pound floatation may serve as an important reminder as to why there may eventually be widespread support for any revolt. The military remains an encroaching institution in Egypt and, for all its intent to ease the effects of austerity, it is exactly this kind of encroachment that legitimates peoples’ grievances with the establishment.

It is unclear how exactly the authorities would have thwarted the protests before they happened and what kind of backlash may have then occurred (Al Jazeera, 15.10.2016). However, given that the final phases of austerity have been enacted, this space should be monitored closely in the coming months.