Islamists without oil

Egypt’s Islamist parties will not have that luxury. They will have to open up to the world, and they seem to be realizing that. Egypt is a net importer of oil. It also imports 40 percent of its food. And tourism constitutes one-tenth of its gross domestic product. With unemployment rampant and the Egyptian pound eroding, Egypt will probably need assistance from the International Monetary Fund, a major injection of foreign investment and a big upgrade in modern education to provide jobs for all those youths who organized last year’s rebellion. Egypt needs to be integrated with the world…

Muhammad Khairat El-Shater, the vice chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood and its economic guru, made clear to me over strawberry juice at his home that his organization intends to lean into the world. “It is no longer a matter of choice whether one can be with or against globalization,” he said. “It is a reality. From our perspective, we favor the widest possible engagement with globalization through win-win situations.”

Nader Bakkar, a spokesman for Al Nour, insisted that his party would move cautiously. “We are the guardians of Shariah,” he told me, referring to Islamic law, “and we want people to be with us on the same principles, but we have an open door to all the intellectuals in all fields.” He said his party’s economic model was Brazil. “We don’t like the theocratic model,” he added. “I can promise you that we will not be another dictatorship, and the Egyptian people will not give us a chance to be another dictatorship.”

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