27 January 2011

The Arab rebellion spreads

The inspiration of Tunisia is spreading eastward. Less than two weeks after the fall of Ben Ali, Egypt -- the most important Arabic- speaking country, ruled by Hosni Mubarak for 30 years -- erupted. A visiting American scholar in Egypt confirms that people want democracy. The regime cracked down, but the protests continued. There was even a report that one of Mubarak's sons had fled Egypt. An eyewitness report is here, video here, photos here -- including some from Tunisia (where protests against Ben Ali cronies clinging to power continue) and Lebanon. And it sounds like things won't be calming down soon.

It's obviously uncertain whether the protests inspired by Tunisia will bring down any more Arab regimes or, if they do, whether the result will be secular democracy, or indeed any improvement at all. There's always the risk that hard-line Islamists, as the best- organized opposition force, could step into the vacuum left by the fall of a dictator, as happened in Iran after the overthrow of the Shah. Sectarian conflict could erupt, as in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein -- although this suggests that much of Egypt, at least, has matured well beyond such dangerous idiocies. Since September 11, the majority of people killed by jihadist terrorism have been Muslims, and there's some evidence that the fanatics are losing popular support -- especially in Egypt, where they have targeted the economy via attacks on tourists. One can hope that a majority of Arabs are as tired of religious fanatics as they are of their aging tyrants.

Update: Now Yemen too.


Blogger Ahab said...

This bears watching. I'll be eager to see what the political results of these protests will be.

27 January, 2011 04:37  
Blogger tnlib said...

I'm glad there's some place I can come to get clear, concise reports on the goings on in the mid-east. My focus is in other areas, as you know, but I don't want to be totally oblivious or uninformed about the happenings in that part of the world. Thank you.

27 January, 2011 07:50  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

...evidence that the fanatics are losing popular support -- especially in Egypt...

Great! Now if only the Fox Noise crowd in this country would start to wake up.

27 January, 2011 11:23  
Blogger Robert the Skeptic said...

The Middle-East is one area where I don't wade very far into the opinion stream. I would more expect things to go hard-line Islamist than Democratic. Pakistan is supposed to be a secular Islamist state, but they are facing tough pressure from the radicals. Turkey has had similar rumblings as well.

Still in Egypt, it's a pretty tough sell if your president has been in office for 30 years.

27 January, 2011 20:53  
Anonymous Tim said...

This domino effect is interesting to watch. Perhaps now we will understand that we shouldn't try our hand at Nation building. It's worked out so well in the past.

28 January, 2011 02:38  

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