The Events in North Africa

February 13, 2011 at 3:15 pm (Uncategorized)

Revolution is impossible. Anyone will tell you that. Yes, revolution is truly  impossible, except when it’s not.

If predictions had been made about the course of events in first Tunisia, and now Egypt, just a few months, no weeks ago, sage commentators would have wisely advised nothing of the sort was possible. And yet here we are.

The corrupt regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled after demonstrations which began in December of last year apparently triggered by Mohamed Bouazizi’s self- immolation grew out of control. The turning point for the regime was when the government instructed the army to fire on demonstrators and the army refused. On January 14, Ben Ali fled the country.  

But once your neighbours had rid themselves of a corrupt authoritarian problem, it’s hard not to look at your own. And so it was with Egypt. A similar pattern of demonstrations and protests, which were initially peaceful, grew unchecked under the demand for “reform.” 

Hosni Mubarak has been in power since the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. Mubarak’s regime has been marked with a degree of stability, but occasionally by protests. His regime has also seen the corruption and repression common to one-man rule, despite the presence of elections every few years or so. His announcement he would stay until September, then his departure the following day, made people believe that anything was possible. And possibly it is.

Egypt of course is a much more important player for the west and the surrounding powers. For the west it is a reliable ally and also an oil power (much more reliable that Saudi Arabia which despite lip service to the contrary is still a major source of funds to the kind of Islamism the west fears so greatly). And so everyone has an interest: The United States, the neighbouring powers, and the various political shadings.

There’s no shortage of news and analysis. I will continue to post relevant material, but I’m also going to point to the International Perspective blog where we publish and reprinting useful analysis.

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