Friday, July 12, 2013

Just what they need: With Egypt running out of wheat, US sending F-16's
Egypt is down to a less-than-two-month supply of wheat, but that doesn't disturb the Hussein Obama administration. They're sending F-16's to Egypt instead.

The US officials say Washington will deliver four F-16 fighter jets in the next few weeks.
They are part of an already agreed bigger order of 20 planes - eight of which were sent to Egypt in January. The final eight are expected to be shipped later this year.

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Wednesday reiterated that it would not be "in the best interests of the United States to make immediate changes to our assistance programmes". He added that the administration would take its time to consider the implications of removing Mr Morsi from power.

US military aid to Egypt is estimated to be $1.3bn (£860m) each year. Don't get me wrong - I don't think the US should cut aid to Egypt right now (which they have threatened to do), but shouldn't they be sending some butter instead of guns

Speaking to Reuters near midnight in a tent at a vigil where thousands of Morsi’s supporters are protesting against the Islamist president’s removal, former Minister of Supplies Bassem Ouda said the state had just 500,000 tonnes of imported wheat left.

Egypt is the world’s largest importer of wheat, half of which it distributes to its 84 million people in the form of heavily subsidised bread. The ousted government closely guarded figures about its foreign grain stores even as a shortage of cash halted its imports.

Two and a half years of political turmoil have caused a deep economic crisis in Egypt, scaring away investors and tourists, draining foreign currency reserves and making it difficult to maintain imports of food and fuel.
After buying 3.7 million tonnes from a domestic harvest that is now finishing, Egypt has 3 million tonnes of home-grown wheat left in its stores, Ouda said.

Egypt normally mixes its lower-gluten domestic wheat with equal parts foreign wheat in order to produce flour suitable to make bread. Ouda said Morsi’s government had tried to increase the ratio of domestic wheat it used to 60 per cent.

In a typical year Egypt imports about 10 million tonnes of wheat. Egypt had not imported any wheat since February - its longest absence from the market in years - until the eve of Morsi’s overthrow when it bought 180,000 tonnes for shipment in August.

Egypt's wheat shortage is not a new story. It goes back at least to when President Mubarak was deposed and probably before that. Three Gulf countries have promised Egypt $12 billion, but promises are one thing and cash is another. What's astounding in all this is that the 'sane' countries in the world are ignoring a problem that could lead to the starvation of some 80 million people (at least).

What could go wrong?

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