Tunesia, Egyt and now Yemen: a domino effect in the Middle East?

Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 07:01 am
A BBC report
In the wake of the ousting of Tunisia's President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, observers have drawn parallels with other countries in the region.

There is speculation about a possible domino effect similar to the collapse of Communist governments around Eastern Europe in 1989.

In several countries of the Middle East and North Africa, youthful and rapidly growing populations face rising food prices, high unemployment and lack of political representation. Some are also ruled by aging autocrats facing succession issues.

Which are the countries involved, and what is the likelihood of real change?

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Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 07:12 am
They were just discussing this on the radio. Certainly the middle east is long overdue for governmental change, and not simply in those three countries. Power brokers in the middle east have used Israel and the West as the boogie man for generations now, while resisting any change which would upset the power status quo. Unfortunately, we live in interesting times.
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Finn dAbuzz
Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 07:39 am
@Walter Hinteler,
I tend to think this situation more closely resembles the "Falling Dominoes" of Mid-century Southeast Asia than the fall of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe.

The regimes under stress today are not satellites of a collapsed major power, and their experience and willingness to brutally crack down on protestors is greater than that of the Soviet puppet states.

In addition, while there are, obviously, legitimate complaints by oppressed citizenry, the Resistance is largely controlled by a Fundamentalist Islamic opposition that has been in place and operating for many years now. It is not about to let populist, pro-democratic forces lead the way.

The outcomes of the current unrest in this region are more likely to resemble those of past SE Asia than Eastern Europe: No new democracies, but some replacement of one form of tyranny with another.

Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 07:41 am
I've been interested in this concept too
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 07:54 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

In addition, while there are, obviously, legitimate complaints by oppressed citizenry, the Resistance is largely controlled by a Fundamentalist Islamic opposition that has been in place and operating for many years now. It is not about to let populist, pro-democratic forces lead the way.

That's what I doubt, especially, when you look at the local/regional scenes.

It is a populist resistance, if it's a democratic one, well, that's the question (and it wasn't really democratic one in e.g. the former Yugoslavian countries either).
Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 04:50 pm
Seems to me more like an attempt to toss the checker board over, when one realizes one is going to lose the game of checkers. And, all being of a similar cultural background, their might be an impetus to join the first checker board upheaveler. Are there any Domino Effects in history? The Domino Effect may be a way to explain the "contagion" of a mob mentality?
Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 05:15 pm

I cannot begin to guess
whether the changes will favor personal freedom and democracy
or fanatical Moslems, like when the Shah of Iran was overthrown.
Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 08:02 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Latest update from the BBC.
(Including Video report)

ElBaradei's return & participation in the anti-government protest movement in Egypt is significant. He is considered an alternative leader to the Mubarak's repressive government. On leaving for Egypt he is quoted as saying to reporters: "If [people] want me to lead the transition, I will not let them down."

Tomorrow (Friday) there are predictions of far bigger street demonstrations in Egypt than we have seen so far, as huge numbers of people leave their mosques after prayers.


27 January 2011 Last updated at 23:20 GMT

Egypt unrest: ElBaradei returns as protests build

Nobel peace laureate and Egyptian opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei has arrived in Cairo as anti-government protests continue to spread.

A Bedouin protester was shot dead in the Sinai region on Thursday, bringing this week's death toll to seven.

There were also protests in the cities of Cairo, Suez and Ismailiya.

The governing party says it is willing to listen to public grievances such as unemployment but has cracked down on protests, arresting up to 1,000 people.

Speaking on his arrival in Cairo, Mr ElBaradei said he would join the protests

"I wish we did not have to go out on the streets to press the regime to act," he said, according to Reuters news agency.

The protests are expected to increase on Friday, when the weekend begins in Egypt and millions gather at mosques for prayers.

As he left Vienna, where he now lives, Mr ElBaradei told reporters: "If [people] want me to lead the transition, I will not let them down."

'No other option'

Mr ElBaradei, formerly the head of the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, said the government should not use violence against the demonstrators.

"I continue to call on the regime to understand that they better listen and listen quickly, not use violence and understand that change has to come. There's no other option," Mr ElBaradei added.

Meanwhile, the governing National Democratic Party (NDP) of President Hosni Mubarak says it is open to dialogue. But it has warned protesters to remain peaceful, ahead of major demonstrations expected on Friday.

"They are free to express their demands and we are here to meet their needs," said NDP secretary general Safwat al-Sherif.

"I hope that all preachers at Friday prayers tomorrow are calling people to be peaceful in a clear, ritual way that never plays upon people's feelings to achieve an undesirable target."

US President Barack Obama described the protests as the result of "pent-up frustrations", saying he had frequently pressed Mr Mubarak to enact reforms.

"The government has to be careful about not resorting to violence," he said in a YouTube question-and-answer session. "The people on the streets have to be careful about not resorting to violence."

The US counts Egypt as a key ally in the Middle East. ...<cont>

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Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 08:16 pm
An informative article from the BBC about the background & motivations for the protests in Egypt, plus information about the various political organizations & political parties involved ..:

26 January 2011 Last updated at 16:32 GMT

Egypt's opposition pushes demands as protests continue

Crowd in Tahrir Square, Cairo carrying signs against President Mubarak. Egypt's "day of anger" brought thousands of workers, students, members of opposition parties and other activists onto the streets.

Anti-government demonstrations in Egypt on Tuesday were the biggest the country has seen since the bread riots of 1977. Inspired by the recent uprising in Tunisia, they involved thousands of Egyptians from a variety of opposition groups. But just who are these opposition movements and what are their demands? ...<cont>

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Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 08:18 pm
being a natural contrary, It's my opinion Mubarak is between a rock and a hard place, no matter what he does will be wrong.
Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 08:21 pm
Egypt should start a mega project to get the unemployed working like digging a channel to the depression in the Lybian desert. See http://able2know.org/topic/167141-1
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Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 08:25 pm
I'd say he's largely responsible for putting himself this hard place, dys. You can't run such a repressive, authoritarian government & not expect an eventual backlash. It may well to too late for any reforms & concessions he might (finally) offer the people of Egypt.
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Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 08:59 pm
Crackdowns as the Egyptian government braces itself for huge anticipated protests on Friday.:

Internet and mobile phone text message users in Egypt have reported a major disruption to services as the country prepares for a new wave of protests against the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak, the president.

Anti-government protesters have called for mass protests after noon prayers on Friday as they increase the pressure on the fourth day of the most serious unrest in decades.

The Associated Press news agency reported that an elite special counterterrorism force had been deployed at strategic points around Cairo in the hours before the planned protests as Egypt's interior ministry warned of "decisive measures".

Meanwhile, a lawyer for the opposition Muslim Brotherhood said that two senior members of the officially banned group had been detained overnight.

"The police detained Dr Essam El-Erian and Dr Mohamed Mursi, and there were others also detained. Many people, it's hard to figure out the exact number," Abdel-Moniem Abdel-Maksoud told the Reuters news agency.

"The reason is of course known: it's what is expected to happen tomorrow."

cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 09:07 pm
bm. Interesting topic for our times.
Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 09:42 pm
@cicerone imposter,
It certainly is, ci.

Incredible, watching these anti-government protests unfold so quickly, country by country ...

I've just been reading about the protests in Yemen. The poorest country in the middle east :

Yemenis take to the streets calling for President Saleh to step down

As unemployment rises and oil and water reserves dwindle, thousands demand an end to president's 32-year reign ... <cont>


Apart from political & social repression by authoritarian governments (from my reading today) these protests appear to be as much about entrenched poverty, the huge gap between the poor & the privileged in these countries, the lack of opportunities for young people especially ...
And government corruption , too, of course:

It certainly looks like the mood for change is in the air!

Interesting too, these youth-lead protests, via facebook & mobile phones. (No wonder the Egyptian authorities are disrupting internet and mobile phone services before the massive demonstrations expected tomorrow!)

And I was also thinking about Israel's situation ....
If the Egyptian's were successful in removing Mubarak's government, how might that affect Egypt's position & security? Egypt's support is critical to Israel's interests in the middle east.. Apart from Jordan, I can't think of other supportive middle eastern countries, off the top of my head.

Anyway, we'll just have to wait & see what happens.
Amazing developments, that's for sure.

Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 09:53 pm
R u feeling better now, Bob? I hope!
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Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 10:03 pm
I started a parallel thread with this message - now pointing at this thread.

With the uprising in Tunisia, and now the Egyptian government shutting down internet and mobile telecoms, and Algerians showing similar unrest are we seeing something like the 'velvet revolutions' of a few years ago in former soviet states? Will it peter out or will regimes tacitly backed by the west (for stability's sake) be overturned, and what will replace them?

Let us know your thoughts and any news you see.

I posted this on the wikileaks thread:
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/25/whispering_at_autocrats?page=0,2 which expresses the view that the candor expressed by US diplomats in the wikileaks documents actually gave restless citizens the belief that the US wasn't going to support autocratic regimes regardless, and that just possibly an internal democratic revolution might not be crushed so that the west could maintain it's strategic interestests (ala Yemen).

From this story

Is the quote "For the U.S., this is a test: Who do you really care about most?" she said. "The leaders in the Arab world, who are your allies, or the people who are calling for the same values you are supposed to represent?"

Where do you stand? Support another country's struggle for democracy, or preserve the strategic interests of your own democracy?
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Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 10:05 pm
Egypt Returns To Dark Ages, SMS & Internet Halted

The situation in Egypt is going from bad to worse as earlier reports of social media services such as Facebook, BlackBerry and Twitter going down appear to have only been the first stage.

Egypt Internet and SMS shut down

There are now reports from Reuters that citizens of Cairo are now experiencing complete Internet and phone shutdown.

The details of the Internet and phone network shutdown appeared moments after a video of protesters in Egypt getting shot were shown by the Associated Press.

"One source with relatives in Cairo says he is communicating with them via landline and they are confirming reports that riot police are setting cars on fire. You can not text message in Egypt at the moment." - via TechCrunch

No details yet on the reason behind the shutdown as none of the local carriers (Internet and mobile) care to state the reasons behind this blackout.
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Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 10:08 pm
Just in from the Washpost.

As protests swell from Yemen to Egypt, Middle East faces uncertainty
A wave of political unrest threatening Middle Eastern governments grew ominously larger Thursday as new protests shook impoverished Yemen and Egyptian authorities braced for massive anti-government demonstrations set to begin Friday.
The fresh turbulence deepened fears of a prolonged period of chaos and uncertainty in the region while raising new questions about the viability of autocratic governments that have been stalwart allies of the United States for more than a generation.

In Egypt, there were signs that the government was moving to shut down access to the Internet and disable text-messaging services in a bid to stifle further protests. Meanwhile, pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei returned to the country to join the protests and rally the opposition.

The tumult in Yemen, where more than 10,000 people took to the streets of the capital, Sanaa, on Thursday, added a troubling new dimension to the regional unrest that began nearly two months ago in Tunisia. Yemen, one of the poorest and most heavily armed countries in the Middle East, is home to multiple separatist movements and has its own, particularly virulent branch of al-Qaeda.

"Yemen is a different game," said Khairi Abaza, a Middle East expert and a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. "If things go out of hand in Yemen, you have many players who will be waiting to try to affect the outcome, from al-Qaeda to Iran."

While the Obama administration continued to show symbolic support for the protesters' pro-democracy aspirations, administration officials and security experts acknowledged a deepening uncertainty about how the protest movement will play out as it reshapes and possibly upends governments and entire societies from Lebanon to North Africa.

With few exceptions, the countries have been under autocratic rule for decades, and are virtually devoid of the traditions, experience and political infrastructure on which to build stable new governments.

The only certainty, experts said, is uncertainty - an extended and potentially dangerous period of instability that is likely just beginning.

"What happened in Tunisia is completely unprecedented in the Arab world," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who served as special assistant on the Middle East and South Asia to three presidents. "We've never had a dictator toppled by the street. As a consequence, there is no safety net, no organized opposition ready to move in. No one has a clue what is going to emerge in some of these places."

Riedel said the uncertainty, combined with speed of the change underway, presents the Obama administration with an array of difficult choices as it seeks to show support for democratic expression while working to preserve stability and prevent violence. Historically, U.S. governments "have never gotten these things right," he said.

Full story...
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cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 27 Jan, 2011 10:23 pm
msolga, I do not believe there is another country except the US in support of Israel. We still give Israel about $4 billion every year, and most Middle East countries see us as supporters of Israel even when everybody on this planet knows it's not a "democracy." They keep expanding their settlements by taking land away from the Palestinians. How long this can go on is anybody's guess.

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