Saturday, January 15, 2011

Could democracy spread to Egypt?

'Reporting from Cairo — Hours after riots forced Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali to flee his country, hundreds of Egyptians poured into the streets of Cairo with a warning to their own authoritarian president, Hosni Mubarak.

"Ben Ali, tell Mubarak a plane is waiting for him too," they chanted late Friday night. "We are next. Listen to the Tunisians; it's your turn, Egyptians."

The slogans were a burst of envy and elation in a country where people have protested for years but have never ignited a mass movement to threaten Mubarak's nearly 30-year-old police state. Dissidents were finally daring to contemplate the possibility that public anger really could explode with dramatic change.'


Iraqi Mojo said...

' Such turmoil hasn't erupted in part because, unlike Tunisia, Egypt is more tolerant, allowing a robust independent media and a surface air of democracy. The Egyptian government's most potent threat comes from millions of disgruntled workers, but they have not aligned with disparate opposition groups. Even Mohamed ElBbaradei, a Nobel Prize winner and the former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, could not rally the country with a new protest movement.

"Tunisia was in a state of complete and full dictatorship, with no outlets for expression," wrote Abdel Rahman Mansour, a journalist and blogger. "This is not the case in Egypt, because Mubarak is smart and he can hold things in the middle."

Holding the middle in the Arab world is getting more difficult these days. Al Jazeera TV beams national transgressions into living rooms while cyberspace activists outflank police and intelligence networks. The young are restless and many, like the fruit vendor who set himself on fire, are angry and bereft of hope. '

Iraqi Mojo said...

"Middle Eastern rulers are masters at outsmarting their opponents and quashing protest. They're far less skilled when it comes to addressing the problems that plague their people.

Those autocrats are almost certainly rooting for the Tunisian army and intelligence services to re-establish calm and control. In much of the Middle East, the rulers depend upon the support of the army and intelligence services. When the secretive, low-profile generals and spooks decide the leader is more a liability than an asset, they send him packing.

Revolution -- real revolution resulting in an overthrow of the existing order along the lines of 1979 Iran, is far less probable.

The Jasmine Revolution, which inspired so many angry and frustrated people across the Arab world, is already in danger of being trampled by jackboots."