The plane that takes from Madrid to Cairo emits looping images of a powerful, rich, modern, great Egypt, led by a strong man who appears on the screens several times in the recording: General Abdelfatá Al Sisi, leader of the coup of A state that ended in 2013 with the brief mandate of the Muslim Brotherhood, who came to power in the first elections after the revolution in Tahrir Square, where today the military has erased any rest of those protests that ended with the fall of Hosni Mubarak .
These days Cairo is hosting a great convention of the defense industry, and Egypt, with its 100 million inhabitants and a great political weight of the high military commanders, is the new jewel for the multinationals in the sector, also Spanish. Construction is also exploding, with pharaonic public works promoted by the regime to the point that the country has become one of the largest cement producers on the planet. Government-sponsored businesses bustle in an Egypt with another face: repression is growing stronger in a country that imprisons young people influencers accused of “undermining family values” and multiplying political prisoners.
Pedro Sánchez, determined for months to recover the influence that Spain once had in this part of the world, and above all to seek large contracts for Spanish companies in growing countries, arrives in Cairo this Tuesday afternoon accompanied by the official plane by a group of businessmen from large construction companies, technology, energy, water companies, and of course defense. “It is a middle-income country with great development plans and enormous possibilities for Spanish companies. There are great expectations ”, they point out from La Moncloa. Sánchez, who is the first Spanish president to travel to Egypt since 2009, had planned to visit a huge water treatment plant built by Spanish companies that serves six million people in Cairo, a huge megalopolis where the car horn never stops. and buildings a few blocks away are barely noticeable for pollution. The companies that accompany the president, mainly infrastructure and transport, indicate the businesses that the Government hopes to promote: FCC Aqualia, Siemens Gamesa, CAF, Indra, Técnicas Reunidas, Navantia, Escribano, Airbus, Thales, Ignis, Talgo. The CEOE also participates in the trip.
Sánchez thus travels to Egypt to close a business forum with companies from both countries and meet with Al Sisi after visiting another key country in the region two weeks ago, also with strong complaints from human rights organizations, Recep Tayip Erdogan’s Turkey. on a trip that also had a clear economic interest and especially for the booming Spanish defense industry, which employs some shipyards that have experienced very important strikes these days. If Al Sisi has reformed the Constitution to be able to govern practically indefinitely, Erdogan is also on his way to becoming a leader almost for life, although with a very important difference: in his case he always came to power and there he remains with credible elections, not with a coup like the Egyptian.
Shortly before going to Turkey, Sánchez traveled to Libya, something that very few European prime ministers have done and which was done in conditions of security risk, with a special landing on a military plane to avoid possible attacks and a huge armed entourage. . The president’s interest in recovering that weight of Spain in a strategic area is evident, although for that it is necessary to undertake trips to non-democratic regimes and thus give them international support in the face of criticism from human rights organizations. “The president wants Spain to be a relevant actor and a privileged interlocutor and thus promote the Euro-Mediterranean relationship,” they point out in the Executive. Precisely this week in Barcelona the Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, leads the “Ministerial Conference for the Stabilization of Libya” with several countries in the area represented.
The Government thus multiplies its presence in a particularly conflictive area of the world, where 10 years after the Arab Spring what has remained for the most part are authoritarian regimes dominated by the military that are achieving, however, significant, albeit unequal, growth rates and they become a natural destination for large Spanish multinationals seeking multi-million dollar contracts.
Sánchez can now focus on his international agenda after having left the legislature in Spain on track with 188 votes in favor of the Budgets. However, the president will return quickly to Spain, the same Wednesday afternoon, because there awaits the central issue of the end of the year, the negotiation of the labor reform, and an intense agenda of reforms with two councils of ministers every week to to be able to accelerate the execution of the large European recovery fund, key to accelerating an economic recovery that is beginning to show some signs that it may not be as strong as expected.