Are Rising Food Prices Fueling Unrest In Egypt?

AngerRevolution Egypt
Photo Credit: FreeStylee, “AngerRevolution”

I told my wife on the phone, “Tell my kids, if I pass away here, tell my kids, ‘Your father was a man, was a man of his word. He stood up for his rights, for your rights, and he went away for you. So, don’t lose this.’” And I was sure this may happen…I am ready to it. I am trying to be ready to it. I’m trying real hard to be ready, to be ready for bullets, for fire, for the last fight. I’m ready. I’m trying, trying to be ready.” -Dr. Ali El Mashad, Egyptian physician, protester

On January 25th, 2011 “The Day of Anger” a string of protests took place across Egypt and the uprising has dominated the news and social media ever since. In Tahrir Square Democracy Now!’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous spoke to Egyptian physician and protester Dr. Ali El Mashad about the unrest in Egypt. I’ve never heard anyone speak quite like that before. I had to share this with you. Watch the interview below.

“We Are Writing History by Our Blood”: Egyptian Physician on Why Protests Won’t End Until Mubarak Resigns

I’ve heard many reasons for the revolution in Egypt:

• Unrest in Tunisia due to WikiLeaks leaks about corrupt government practices.

• A large percentage of the population under 35 that is unemployed and educated.

• Corrupt leader, Mubarak, undemocratically President for life.

• Media crackdowns.

Surely all these play a role and in concert with each other are problem enough but I haven’t heard much coverage on rising food prices as a potential cause or catalyst in the Egyptian revolts.

Crowd_in_Midan_El-Tahrird_During_the_2011_Egyptian_Protests
Photo Credit: Essam Sharaf (Own work), Big crowd amassed in Midan El Tahrir, Cairo during March of the Millions part of the 2011 Egyptian protests. One sign says “People Demand Removal of The Regime”, Feb. 7, 2011

The dramatic rise in food prices is fueling a great deal of discontent in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere. It’s a deep undercurrent propelling many of the poor, who face prospects of starvation to resort to the streets and to violence. According to the United Nation’s Food Agency (Food and Agriculture Organization — FAO) world food prices are up for the 7th month in a row and are likely to surpass the record high reached in December 2010.” -counterpunch.org

In 2008 the rising cost and scarcity of food were the cause of riots, protests, demonstrations and even fatalities in not only Egypt but Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Bolivia and Indonesia. -guardian.co.uk 2008

So what’s causing the food prices to rise? We can pin the tail on extreme weather events due to climate change and disease spreading through crops, which may also be related to climate change.

Robert Alvarez, writing for counterpunch.org sites Clinton era US laws “enforcing rules that prevent the distortion or manipulation of prices beyond normal supply and demand” and Wall Street commodity speculation. Read more about it in Food, Egypt and Wall Street via counterpunch.org

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