El-Erian told host Tom Keene the conflict in Egypt is “tragic, dangerous, and sad,” and highlighted Egypt’s immense poverty.
El-Erian said the U.S. has a clear advisory role to play, but the transition “has to come from within Egypt.”
But there is a silver lining, with more Egyptian involvement at the social and civic level, El-Erian said.
With over 40% of the population living in poverty, “The revolution was about bread and dignity, or the social justice in addition to economic prosperity,” El-Erian said.
He also balked at returning to run for political office, but characterised the massive political transition in Egypt. From Bloomberg TV:
“This is a political, social, economic, and institutional dislocation. So it is across the board. Nations need anchors and Egypt unfortunately did not build sufficient anchors during the period of repression and is now trying to build them on the run and is having difficulty. Having said that, it is really important to see the sunny side. It may not be very shiny right now, but the sunny side of the political awakening is what is happening at the grassroots level. If we speak to people there, they will tell you there is so much more involvement at the social, at the civic level. We’re talking about health, education, about new entrepreneurs, about professional networks that are being formed. In the past, no one did that because they didn’t feel they owned the country. They felt like landless peasants in a country that was run for the privileged few. Today, there is a very different sense. So if Egypt — and it is going to be really hard, Tom, but if Egypt can get over this process and find national reconciliation, what is happening at the micro level is significant and speaks to a better medium term. But the immediate future is a very uncertain one.”
Watch the full video here.