Domino effect continues… who’s after Egypt?

28 Jan, '11

With the collapse of dictatorial rule in Tunis and the running demonstrations in Egypt since 25 Jan with Friday the 28th culminating in the biggest series of demonstrations for decades, which other country could follow this popular domino effect?

The regular culprits and the most shaky governments seem to be Algeria, Morocco, Jordan and Yemen, most of which witnessed significant demonstrations since the Tunisian popular uprising. Whether those demonstrations would be sustainable is anyone’s guess. The Egyptian situation certainly seems to have taken the officials there by utter surprise. I’m not sure why; with 30% illiteracy and some 50% of its population living with under the equivalent of two US Dollars per day, the massive amount of human rights variations visited upon them, they should’ve really expected it.

As I watch Al-Jazeera at the moment with it declaring the government issuing a curfew from 6PM – 7AM Cairo time, it seems that they now got the message, but they certainly didn’t read the situation on the ground very well.

With Egypt taking the opportunity of the first celebrated date after the Tunisian uprising to start their demonstrations, I can’t but postulate that others might use the same technique to illicit support for their causes and start the process of toppling their particular domino piece. A quick search of possible “flash dates” in the Arab world resulted in one very close to us; the commemoration of the declaration of these very islands of Bahrain to be a Kingdom. That date of course is Feb 14, just a couple of weeks away.

A smart government would tone down its celebrations at this particular time. A smarter government of course would immediately engage its populace and show them that the long promised reforms are immediately introduced in tangible forms in order not only to momentarily ameliorate their citizens’ senses, but to simply make good on its promises.

What do Bahraini citizens want? Live in dignity and have their basic human rights, and intellect, respected. Translating that into practical terms, I personally think the very first thing that should be enacted is the declaration of an impartial truth and reconciliation committee with all relevant powers, the rescinding of contentious laws, particularly 56/2002 and the enacting free press and respect for freedoms of association and speech.

Will the government be cognizant of these feelings and acquiesce to these reasonable requests? Especially when you consider that these very factors will strengthen their position and perpetuate their rule?

I don’t know. After ten years of promises, I feel its high time that those promises are enacted.

The last thing we need is even more strife in this country. We’ve had enough.

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Comments (30)

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  1. Steve the American says:

    I’m hoping Iran tips after Egypt, but that’s my wishful thinking. It’s just a wonderful thing to imagine the Persians chasing mullahs down the street with pitchforks and torches.

    If I dip down deep in my well of wishful thinking, I’d love to see the Saudis turn over their government. The vision of Saudi princes hanging from lamp posts makes me kinda giddy. Of course, the Saudis are too sheeplike to do it and almost certainly whatever would follow would be ten times worse. The only light in this tunnel fantasy is the possibility we could bomb Saudi Arabia, snuffing out the Wahhabi state, and perhaps make it all part of Greater Jordan. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

    I’d like to think George Bush Jr had a hand in setting off this revolt. When Dubya took Saddam down and remade Iraq into something like a democracy, it demonstrated to all that these Arab tyrannies are not invulnerable. When the Iraqis hung Saddam, I’m sure Egyptians thought, why not Mubarak, too?

    However, I’m not sure Dubya wants to take credit for any Arab revolt, since the Arabs make such a shamble of their politics. Certainly, however well intentioned and legitimate this revolution may be, it’s likely to end badly for all.

    History does not bode well either. Most violent revolutions replace a moderate tyranny with an extreme tyranny. Look at the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Iranian Revolution. If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over, Egyptians may come to think they never had it so good under Mubarak.

    • Sky says:

      Dude, were you born in to this? Or were you raised to think this way? It would be comic but for the hate spewing off you. Man, give it a break.

      • Steve the American says:

        Dude, the truth is hard to hear sometimes. I know that you’re all jazzed about an Egyptian revolution but history shows violent revolutions do not turn out well. Arab history shows no genius for politics. There is not much Arab inclination for democracy. Arabs prefer tyranny. Most of Arab politics is about deposing the tyrant they hate to install the tyrant they love.

        Egypt is full of bad choices. Mubarak is a dick, I’ll grant you that. But the Muslim Brotherhood are murdering religious fanatic scum. If Mubarak goes, and it looks like he might, the Muslim Brotherhood is the main organized force left. Should they take over, you can expect Egypt to take giant steps back. Think Afghanistan with pyramids.

        • mahmood says:

          Change at this scale is exciting and can be ugly. So far, it looks like the Muslim Brotherhood have been caught on the back foot, hence, I would like to believe that you would be mistaken in your assessment. At least I hope so, because it would be so good to see you eat your words!

          • Steve the American says:

            If the Egyptians complete their revolution and make a representative democracy of themselves, I would be happy to eat my words with chocolate sauce on them.

            However, I see that outcome as unlikely, perhaps one in ten. There is no popular democratic movement, as the Poles had Solidarity during their revolution. Where is the Egyptian Lech Wałęsa? Nor do Arabs have any tradition of nonviolent opposition. Violence is the default position of Arabs when promoting any cause.

            Revolutionary changes are best wrought by degrees, with the slow and methodical construction of democratic parties and institutions forcefully negotiated, brick by brick, until the authoritarian government is reduced by degrees into irrevelance, like the English monarchy.

            When revolutions proceed spontaneously and are run ad hoc by immature organizations led by radical leaders, they are most likely to have a bad outcome, such as Khomeini’s revolution.

            From what fragmentary reports I see and read now, it looks like a desperate Mubarak is both overreacting and underreacting in bad ways. It appears dozens of protestors have been shot, an inflammatory provocation. Worse yet, vandals are not only savaging their political enemies, but Egypt’s legacy. The Egypt Museum is said to be invaded and mummies destroyed.

            The Egyptians have the revolution they wanted. Now, let’s hope the realization of their dreams does not destroy them. Right now, it sounds like the state of Egypt is proceeding from bad to worse. If Mubarak boards a flight out of town, it will be fight among strongmen to take his seat.

    • mahmood says:

      Gosh Stevo, never had such a popular comment!

      • Steve the American says:

        The Athenians hated Socrates’ comments so much they hade him drink hemlock. I’m in good company.

  2. exclamation mark says:

    This uprise shows how the US Govt. contradicts itself, it had helped and supported a dictator and tyran! And yet calls for democracy and freedom throughout the region.

    Typical “Red Neck” politics.

    • Toady says:

      The US isn’t keeping Mubarek in power. It doesn’t have any armies in Egypt and it isn’t sending any troops over to support him. Come back to reality.

      • exclamation mark says:

        The US did support the Egyptian regime for more than thirty years financially, with several millions of dollars annually. Such support encourages people like Mubarak to grasp to their chairs.

        • Steve the American says:

          The US gives Egypt $1.3 billion in aid every year which is a giant bribe to not attack Israel and throw the Middle East into chaos, kinking the oil supply. If the Egyptians had another government in place, they’d get the same bribe.

    • Steve the American says:

      If the US wanted to deal with a non-dictator and a non-tyrant in the Middle East, where would we find one outside of Israel? Dictators and tyrants are all the Muslim Middle East has to offer. Dictators and tyrants are the highest form of government Arabs can manage on their own. America must deal with the Arab countries as they are, not as we would wish them to be. And if Arabs wanted a democracy, like the rest of the modern world, they would make one, instead of making excuses and constantly blaming The Other for their own political incompetence.

      • exclamation mark says:

        No one here is talking about overthorwing governments, what we’re talking about is how the Americans put themselves as a government concerned for democracy and freedom of speech! But why when mostly the US addresses these issues it is either about rights in China, Iran or any other country that is not an ally of the US (therefore a proposed enemy), otherwise why can’t they deal with those countries as they are?

        We haven’t heard any of the US presidents or anyone of their delegates talking about human rights violations in Egypt, Jordan or even about the P.L.O? Eventhough Human rights organization reported seriuos violations and for years, 30 years of torture in Eqypt, 23 years of tyranny in Tunisia, and there was no word from the US about it. WHY?

  3. Anonny says:

    How do the Coptic Christians feel about this? Anybody heard any comment from a spokesperson?

  4. Anonny says:

    @Mahmood

    Muslim Brotherhood caught on the back foot?

    The fact that they haven’t immediately piped up with the expected rhetoric indicates that they are at the very least deliberating. Maybe they even have a timeline already.

    • mahmood says:

      I’m not so sure Anonny. They’re usually fast in claiming stardom, so them being non-present in a large part is probably due to them appreciating the sentiment on the street that the uprising is non-denominational, non-sectarian and non-religious. That fact probably is scaring them quite nicely.

  5. Anonny says:

    Naa, they know that they will do well in times of upset. People are uncertain of the future, worried for their loved ones, dreaming of utopia, fearful of chaos … perfect ground for religious extremism to flourish, especially if essentials become scarce. They can just step in and promise _any_ morsel of _certainty_.

    I really, fervently hope you are right, but the track record of modern Arabia .. well ..

  6. Steve the American says:

    The Coptic Christians should pack their bags and leave before the Muslim Brotherhood takes over, just like the Jews should have left Germany when the Nazis took over.

  7. Anonny says:

    Who trashed the museum? That was bad.

    • Steve in Boston says:

      Amen, it was truly horrible to hear. I don’t understand what they think they gain by committing such a heinous crime against not only their fellow Egyptians, but the entire world. I hope and pray that that sort of idiocy does not continue to happen.

    • Anonny says:

      Al Jazeera talks about security IDs etc being found on the Museum trashers. If true it’s horrible. Cultural artefacts are part of cultural memory and collective identity. These incidents are not to be dismissed lightly.

  8. Steve in Boston says:

    Mahmood my old friend,

    It’s been a few years since I’ve posted here, and I doubt you remember me with your many many Internet friends.

    When I heard the news about your country, I came right here only to discover there was no updates on your site for a few days. I grew concerned but am greatly relieved that you appear to be fine, now that the Internet block has been lifted in Egypt.

    I’d like to see Steve the American (above) eat his words too, and truly hope that Egypt ends up with the government it truly wants and deserves. First Tunis and now Egypt. I know violence seems to be the way right now, I just hope deaths and injuries are very minimal, and everyone realizes that you are all brothers and sisters.

    I’m very disturbed that some fools would destroy the artifacts in the museum. That is every Egyptian’s greatness there, and belongs to its people, not the government. Why do they feel the need to destroy the irreplaceable when they are angry at the government? The same thing happened in Iraq and the world is less enlightened as a result.

    Anyways, I wish nothing but safety, health and happiness for you, your family and your countrymen, my friend! Please be well and be safe!

    • mahmood says:

      Hi Steve, pleasure to have you around. Though I think you confused this Mahmood with that one maybe? Still, we’re about the same size! 😉

      All the same, your sentiments are much appreciated.

      • Steve the American says:

        Mahmood: “Hi Steve, pleasure to have you around”

        That’s the first time I’ve ever seen those words written in this blog. Just sayin’.

    • Steve the American says:

      Steve in Boston: “I’d like to see Steve the American (above) eat his words too, and truly hope that Egypt ends up with the government it truly wants and deserves.”

      Let’s hope Egypt gets neither the Islamist government it truly wants but rather a democratic government better than it deserves. Egypt has not built up the legal infrastructure of honest cops and fair courts that would allow it to weather a revolution. It has no moderate party of any strength nor size. It has not prepared itself to become a democracy nor do most Egyptians wish to become one.

      While I would be happy to make a meal of my words it’s more likely that I will starve while Egypt turns into another Islamist hellhole. It appears that all the Arab Muslim countries are doomed to go through an Islamist phase if only to discover how horrible it is and reject it. It looks like Eygpt is likely to be lost for a generation or two, just like Iran.

      Steve in Boston: “I’m very disturbed that some fools would destroy the artifacts in the museum. That is every Egyptian’s greatness there, and belongs to its people, not the government. Why do they feel the need to destroy the irreplaceable when they are angry at the government? The same thing happened in Iraq and the world is less enlightened as a result.”

      A mob is not a precision weapon. Once you release it into the streets, it destroys for the joy of destruction.

      The Iraq museum was not looted by the Iraqis, but rather by Saddam’s henchmen years before the US invaded. It is an Arab/leftist myth that the US invasion encouraged looters to sack the museum. Saddam’s men pulled up the truck at night to the museum to steal artifacts every week for years, then sold them on the black market. The curators were not allowed in the exhibit space for years to cover up the theft. The corrupt museum directors passed the blame off on the US after the invasion, in typical Arab/Muslim fashion. Read and learn:

      http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2004/11/the-thieves-of-baghdad/3570/

  9. Steve in Boston says:

    Mahmood,

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I did confuse where you were both from, as I did write to Sandmonkey too, a few years ago, before life got in the way of my spare time. I noticed my mistake after I sent the post, but it was too late.

    I used to write you too, and remember one time in particular, when you posted a picture of your son, being silly with a big grin on his face and I commented how precious he seems to be. I also used to love looking at the pictures you used to take of the car races you attended.. and the girls too, of course 😉 I don’t see any photography links here any more. They were fun to go through, it was like we were attending the races too, hahah.

    Bahrain is having some freedom troubles of its own, though I hope and pray they never reach the point that we are seeing now in other parts of the world. My sentiments are the same for you and your family too though 🙂

  10. Reeshiez says:

    Mahmood: I agree with you 100%. A national reconciliation committee is an excellent idea. There is no reason why the government should be against the basic demands of the movement: Freedom of the press, end to corruption, and the freeing of political prisoners. The most important thing I believe is the creation of a democratic process. One thing that I admire about the US is their policy making procedures. The press and the public (through public interest groups) are free to comment through comment papers on any legislation proposed by Congress. Once legislation is passed and goes to a specific agency (the equivilent of ministries) the public and press are free to comment on any proposed rules. The agency then has to respond to all the comments and take them into consideration when they make a rule and explain their rationale for rejecting or accepting the proposals sent by the comments. There is no reason why such a procedure should not be implemented in bahrain. For example, with the recent issue on lifting the subsidies (I am for lifting the subsidy on mumtaz oil by the way but thats another discussion) the government would announce to the public the proposed rule. Different interest groups then would be free to comment (the best commentary is of course backed by research and statistics not rhetoric). The government must then respond to the comments, take them into consideration and then formulate a rule in the best interest of the public. I see no reason whatsoever why this cannot be implemented in bahrain and why the government would oppose this. It would be the first step towards giving the people a role in governance and also encourage the development of expertise within political societies which usually use rhetoric instead of scientific arguments.

    I was wondering if you knew who is organizing the Feb 14 movement. I went to their facebook page and was disturbed by some of their religious slogans and disappointed that one of their demands is the banning of alcohol. Although I don’t drink, I believe that a democracy without freedom of worship and opinion is not a true democracy. One must protect the people they disagree with as well as the people they agree with. Is the secular opposition in bahrain supporting them?

    • mahmood says:

      I have no idea who’s organising the proposed #feb14 movement. If they’re skewing toward religious dogma and restriction of freedoms, I shall immediately withdraw my support for such and other like movements. The last thing we need in this country is crap like that.

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